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overhaul of Australian citizenship rules


Changes to the citizenship test and application process

The government is committed to the citizenship test. It encourages potential citizens to find out more about Australia and understand the responsibilities and privileges of Australian citizenship.

An independent review of the Australian citizenship test was undertaken in 2008 to help the government examine the content and operation of the citizenship test to make sure that it is achieving its purpose of providing an effective pathway for residents to become Australian citizens.

The Citizenship Test Review Committee made 34 recommendations to improve the test. The government fully supported 23 of the recommendations and gave in-principle support to a further four.

As noted in the Australian AN overhaul of citizenship rules will ensure the overseas partners of Australians who want to call the nation home have a “connection to Australia, rather than a connection to an Australian’’.

The Department of Immigration has weighed in on proposed changes to citizenship laws, saying “Australian citizenship is a privilege to be given by the Australian people, rather than a right to be claimed by an individual’’.

The government wants to strengthen the integrity of the citizenship program and hand Immigration Minister Scott Morrison powers to revoke citizenship where it has been obtained by fraud or misrepresentation.

This would include cases where applicants had provided false or misleading information during the visa and citizenship processes.

Refugee advocates are warning of overreach, saying no decision-maker should be exempt from independent oversight.

The majority of people who apply for citizenship must live in Australia for four years before their application, including spending at least 12 months as a permanent resident. The changes mean people would need to live in Australia continuously for 12 months.

The overhaul would also ­remove any abuse of the partner discretion, limiting when an applicant, who is married or in a ­de facto relationship with an Australian citizen, can count overseas absences as part of the residence requirement for citizenship.