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Australian Citizenship Changes 2017

Australian Citizenship Changes 2017

On 20 April 2017, the Australian government announced changes to the eligibility requirements for Australian citizenship. The main changes include:

  1. Increasing the general residency requirement which means an applicant for Australian citizenship will need to demonstrate a minimum of four (4) years permanent residence immediately prior to their application for citizenship
  2. Introducing English requirement any applicant 16 years or older
  3. Introducing the requirement for an applicant to show they have integrated into the Australian community during their permanent residence
  4. Introducing the Pledge of Allegiance will be a requirement for all applicants

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When do these changes take effect?

The changes took effect from 20 April 2017. However, these changes have not been passed as law by the Australian parliament. The Australian Labour party has announced it is opposing the proposed changes. It is not exactly known when or if these changes will be passed as law.

What if the changes are not passed as law?

If the changes are not passed as law, the previous eligibility requirements which existed prior to the Government’s announcement on 20 April 2017 will continue to apply to citizenship applications lodged with DHA.

What are my options?

Option 1 - Start my Citizenship application now

If you have been a permanent resident for at least a year but less than 4 years, you may want to apply now. It is possible that DHA will approve your application under the old requirements, and that you'll lose this opportunity when the new law is passed. Keep in mind that if you choose to file under the old requirements you do risk losing your government filing fee if your application is refused.

Start My Application

Option 2 - Wait until the new citizenship law is decided

If you're not willing to risk losing the government filing fee, you may want to consider waiting until there is greater clarity around the legal requirements to apply for Australian citizenship. Keep in mind that one possible outcome is that you'll need to wait for a significant period of time before you can apply. It is also possible that the law in its final form will include totally new provisions that change the eligibility requirements further.

It is not clear if the new law will be passed successfully. It has been opposed by a number of members of the Australian parliament and even if it is passed, there could be changes made to the new requirements. It will be several more months before there is a definite decision.

What do I risk if I lodge my application now?

If the new citizenship law is passed, your application may be refused and you will lose the government filing fee of $285.

Note: If your application is refused, your permanent visa status will not be affected in any way and your permanent resident entitlements will continue.

What do I gain if I lodge my application now?

If you are currently ineligible under the new residence requirements, there is a chance that you may still qualify for Australian citizenship by filing now.

Click here to learn more about Australian Citizenship general eligibility requirements.

These are the specific changes that have been introduced to Australian parliament by the Government to be passed as the new citizenship law:

  • Increase to the general residence requirement to require citizenship by conferral applicants to have been a permanent resident for at least four years before they are eligible to apply for citizenship;
  • Introduce an English language test to require most applicants to provide evidence of competent English language proficiency before they can make a valid application for citizenship; this would require at least 6 in each band of IELTS or equivalent English test. Evidence of Competent English would need to be provided at lodgement for all applicants aged 16 years or over.
  • Lawful status requirement, applicants must not have been unlawful at any stage during the four (4) years;
  • Strengthening the Australian Values Statement in application forms to require applicants to sign an Australian Values Statement in order to make a valid application for citizenship;
  • Strengthening the test for Australian citizenship by adding new test questions about Australian values, and the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship;
  • Requirement for applicants to show their integration into the Australian community. Applicants must demonstrate their integration into the Australian community by providing, for example, documentation to the effect that people who can work are working, or are actively looking for work or seeking to educate themselves; that people are contributing to the community by being actively involved in community or voluntary organisations; that people are properly paying their taxes and ensuring their children are being educated. Applicants' criminal records and adherence to social security laws are also relevant; generally they must show they are behaving in a manner consistent with the Australian values that applicants commit to when they sign the Australian Values Statement;
  • Introducing the Pledge of Allegiance, the Pledge of Commitment will be renamed the Pledge of Allegiance. To become a citizen,the Pledge of Allegiance is required of all applicants 16 years and over. The Pledge of allegiance will apply to all streams of citizenship by application, including citizenship by conferral, descent, adoption and resumption.

Click here to start your Australian Citizenship Application.

Timeline of Citizenship Changes 2017:

On 20 April 2017, the Government announced the changes to Australian citizenship eligibility requirements.

On 15 June 2017, the Government introduced new citizenship related law into the Parliament.

On 29 June 2017, the Australian Labour party announced it would oppose the introduction of the new law. The new citizenship related law was then referred to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for further consideration.

Australian Citizenship Changes Effective Date

The Committee’s is due to make its report on 4 September 2017.

After the report is made the Government will decide if it wants to adopt the Committee’s recommendations (if any) and the proposed law will be reintroduced to Parliament to be debated.

It may be several months before an outcome is reached on whether or not the proposed changes are made into law by the Australian parliament.

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