We are getting people calling asking if they are eligible for citizenship, and the answer is actually more complicated than you think.
The reason being the departments website says this.
Am I eligible?
The Australian Government is strengthening the requirements to become an Australian citizen. This includes:
- Increasing the general residence requirement, which means an applicant for Australian citizenship will need to demonstrate a minimum of four years permanent residence immediately prior to their application for citizenship
- Introducing an English language test, which means applicants will need to demonstrate competent English language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills before being able to sit the citizenship test
- Strengthening the Australian Values Statement to include reference to allegiance to Australia and require applicants to make an undertaking to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community
- Strengthening the test for Australian citizenship through the addition of new test questions about Australian values, and the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship
- Introducing a requirement for applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community
- Strengthening the Pledge of commitment as a citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 to refer to allegiance to Australia; and extending the requirement for individuals aged 16 years and over to make the Pledge to all streams of citizenship by application, including citizenship by descent, adoption and resumption.
Subject to the passage of legislation required to enact some of the measures, the changes will come into effect, and apply to applications made from the date of the Government’s announcement on 20 April 2017.
The changes apply to citizenship applications lodged on and after 20 April 2017. The changes do not apply to applications made before 20 April 2017.
There are no changes on the 20 April 2017 so “technically” we still playing under the 1st of January 2017 rules… So what does that mean?
The Government has the right to introduce changes to legislation, effective immediately. The changes must then be presented to Parliament as a Bill to be considered for change to be ratified. If the change does not pass both houses then the changes cannot be made.
So this is where we are at. We have a non binding website saying one thing, binding legislation saying another AND a bill that needs to be introduces and accepted to make the non binding website correct and the currently binding legislation incorrect. Got it? I don’t blame you if you don’t.
To add to the confusion, there are likely hefty delays. The Government has indicated that the legislation will be put to Parliament by the end of 2017, and to top that off it is likely it will take some time for the legislation to be passed so we might not have answers for another year or more….
So what this means in short is.
- If you apply today(after the 20th of April) applications which don’t meet the 4 year requirement will likely be put on hold until the legislation is passed
- If it is passed then applications not meeting the new requirements will be refused
- If it is not passed applications meeting the old (current – if you want to be specific) requirements will then be processed.
So the answer is not really an answer I guess. more of a general recomendation to be patient and wait unless you have the 4 years as a permanent resident. If you meet the new “enhanced” requirements then go ahead and apply. And if you need help, of course contact Active Migration.