I recently heard on the news that the proposed changes to Australian Citizenship the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment Bill 2017 lapsed on 18th October 2017.
This means that applications are again being assessed against previous residence requirements.
It seems that applications lodged after the 1st July 2018 may be affected after new changes have been introduced.
But before any changes will come into effect new legislation will need to be re-introduced into Parliament and pass both houses.
Your current status
If you have lodged your application for Australian citizenship, you should soon receive an email confirming that your application will be assessed under the rules as they applied prior to 20 April 2017.
From what I understand, the Department of Immigration had put processing of many citizenship applications lodged after 20 April on hold.
Hopefully processing of these applications will now re-commence.
The Australian Government will probably look at re-introducing new legislation to Parliament next year that may:
- Increase the residence requirement
- Require a lower competent English test for many applicants
- Introduce an integration test
- Ask to increase the Minister’s power to refuse applications for citizenship, cancel citizenship approvals and postpone citizenship ceremonies for applicants of concern
The current residence requirements
In most cases if applying for citizenship by conferral, you will have to meet the “General Residence Requirement”.
This requires you to have been in Australia for at least:
- The last 4 years, on any temporary, permanent or bridging visa, with a maximum of 12 months overseas; and
- The last 12 months, on a permanent visa, with a maximum of 3 months overseas
Permanent Resident holders who have spent time in Australia prior to obtaining their permanent residence i.e. students, 457 holders and partner visa applicants, may become eligible for citizenship once they have held their PR for 12 months.
This is because up to 3 years of the 4 years residence requirement can be made up of time spent in Australia on a temporary visa or bridging visa.
The proposed residence requirement would only allow you to apply for citizenship once you’ve held a permanent visa for 4 years.
In other words, you cannot count time spent in Australia on temporary or bridging visas towards the above 4 years residence requirement.
There is currently no separate formal test of English to qualify for citizenship.
The Australian Government proposed that applicants complete a formal test of English language ability i.e. a high – Competent English – 6 in each band of IELTS or equivalent.
Luckily many parties felt that the proposed level was too high and will make many people ineligible for citizenship.
Do you know that there are applicants who do not need to do an English test to obtain permanent residence, or can qualify with less than Competent English?
- Family Sponsored Visas: for example Spouses, Parents, Remaining Relatives, Carers, Aged Dependent Relatives etc.
- Employer Sponsored Visas: for example ENS Temporary Residence Transition Stream, ENS and RSMS Direct Entry with English waiver
Many permanent residents will be happy that the proposed Bill to change the citizenship rules was defeated in the Senate so, if you are eligible to apply for your citizenship, do it as soon as.
If legislation is reintroduced at some point it will most likely affect people who have held their PR for less than 4 years or who are unable to meet the English requirement.
Visit the website and get more facts from the Department of Immigration – Australian citizenship