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Harder to call Australia home! Changes to the Citizenship process

In a joint media statement, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and the Prime Minister announced the Government’s reform in ensuring applicants of Australian citizenship are competent and commited to embracing Australian values.

This was in accordance with the Government’s aim to strengthen Australian citizenship by putting Australian values at the heart of the citizenship processes and requirements.

The Minister also said that membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be granted to those who support its values, respect the laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia.

In line with the government requirement, the reform will ensure that the citizenship program is conducted in national interest. The reforms will include:

  • Requiring all applicants to pass a stand-alone English test, involving reading, writing, listening and speaking;
  • Requiring applicants to have lived in Australia as a permanent resident for at least four years (instead of one year at present);
  • Strengthening the citizenship test itself with new and more meaningful questions that assess an applicant’s understanding of — and commitment to — our shared values and responsibilities;
  • Requiring applicants to show the steps they have taken to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community. Examples would include evidence of employment, membership of community organisations and school enrolment for all eligible children.
  • Limiting the number of times an applicant can fail the citizenship test to three (at present there is no limit to the number of times an applicant can fail the test);
  • Introducing an automatic fail for applicants who cheat during the citizenship test.

The Minister pointed out that English language proficiency is essential for economic participation. The language proficiency promotes integration into the Australian community and social cohesion. Relevant exemptions will apply, such as for permanent or enduring incapacity and for those under 16 years of age.

Any conduct that is inconsistent with Australian values was considered part of the process. For example, criminal activity, including violence against women and children, involvement in gangs or organised crime, is thoroughly inconsistent with Australian values.

The new requirements will apply to all new applications for Australian citizenship.

Consequently if you or anyone you know is about to lodge a citizenship application or has had a citizenship application refused please speak to one of the lawyers at our office for thorough advice on your options.

Call 03 9614 0218 or email to arrange a free initial 30 Minute consultation at our Melbourne office. (conditions apply)

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Note: this update, or any previous updates on this page, do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Please call our office to seek professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content on this page