The Australian Citizenship Bill, otherwise know as The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures)
2017 is back in 2018.
After being struck down in the Senate last year due to failing in meeting the deadline, the dreaded citizenship bill is scheduled back to the Senate’s agenda for its “spring sitting.”
Citizenship Bill Highlights
To strengthen the requirements to become an Australian citizen, the Bill amends the Act to:
- increase the general residence requirement to require citizenship by conferral applicants to have been a permanent resident for at least eight years before they are eligible to apply for citizenship;
- require most applicants to provide evidence of competent English language proficiency before they can make a valid application for citizenship;
- require applicants to sign an Australian Values Statement in order to make a valid application for citizenship;
- require applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community, including by behaving in a manner consistent with the Australian values that applicants commit to when they sign the Australian Values Statement;
- amend the Preamble to recognise that people who are conferred Australian citizenship undertake to accept the obligation to pledge their allegiance to Australia and its people, and to share Australian values;
- allow for the Australian Citizenship Regulation 2016 (the Regulation) or an instrument made under the Act to determine the information or documents that must be provided with an application in order for it to be a valid application;
- allow for the Minister to determine eligibility criteria for sitting the citizenship test that may relate to the fact that a person has previously failed the test, did not comply with one or more rules of conduct relating to the test, or was found to have cheated during the test;
- rename the ‘pledge of commitment’ the ‘pledge of allegiance’ and amend the pledge to require a person to pledge their allegiance to Australia and its people;
- extend the requirement to make the pledge of allegiance to all persons aged 16 and over intending to acquire citizenship by descent, persons adopted in accordance with the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption or a bilateral agreement, persons intending to acquire citizenship by resumption, and persons intending to acquire citizenship by conferral who have satisfied the criteria for a person born to a former Australian citizen, a person born in Papua or a person who has satisfied the criteria relating to statelessness; and
- allow for the Regulation or an instrument made under the Act to introduce a two year bar on a person making an application for citizenship where the Minister has refused to approve the person becoming an Australian citizen on grounds other than failure to meet the residence requirement.
Compared to the 2017 version below, the new bill requires longer period for one to be eligible for citizenship.
- increasing the general residence requirement, which means applicants for Australian citizenship will need to have a minimum of four years permanent residence immediately prior to their application for citizenship with no more than one year spent outside Australia during that period
- completing a separate English language test, where applicants will need to demonstrate English language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills at the modest level before applying for citizenship by conferral
- strengthening the Australian values statement to include reference to allegiance to Australia and requiring applicants to undertake 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
- a requirement for applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community
- strengthening the pledge to refer to allegiance to Australia, and extending the requirement to make the pledge to applicants aged 16 years and over for all streams of citizenship by application, including citizenship by descent, adoption and resumption.
If even the four year requirements the failed bill proposed were deemed too much for most migrants that it sparked outrage in the migrant communities all over the country, no one knows what eight years requirement will bring.
According to SBS, currently the Department has no less than 200,000 citizenship applications that need to be processed.