What are the proposed changes to Australian citizenship announced on April 20, 2017?
Changes to the Citizenship requirements
On 20 April 2017, the Australian government announced changes to the eligibility requirements for Australian citizenship. The main changes include:
- 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
- Introducing English requirement any applicant 16 years or older
- Introducing the requirement for an applicant to show they have integrated into the Australian community during their permanent residence
- Introducing the Pledge of Allegiance will be a requirement for all applicants
When will these changes come into 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 DIBP.
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 DIBP 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.
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.
What are the previous general eligibility requirements for Australian Citizenship?
The previous general eligibility requirements for Australian Citizenship:
- Holding Australian permanent resident status for 1 years and living in Australia for at least 9 out of 12 months prior to applying
- Lived continuously and legally in Australia for the past 4 years
- Been physically present in Australia and must not be absent for more than 12 months in the last 4 years
- Satisfying the good moral character requirement
Click here to learn more about the Australian Citizenship Changes which have not yet been passed as law.
What are the requirements for Australian Citizenship if I am a citizen of New Zealand?
Most New Zealand citizens are granted a Special Category visa (SCV) upon arrival to Australia. An SCV is a temporary visa but it grants resident status which gives the right to live and work in Australia for the duration of their stay. The SCV expires when the New Zealand citizen departs Australia.
Your eligibility for Australian citizenship depends on your date of arrival to Australia:
- If you arrived before 26 February 2001 you may be eligible to apply for Australian Citizenship
- If you arrived after 26 February 2001 you might be required to apply for permanent resident status first to be eligible for Australian Citizenship
- If you have a CentreLink certificate issued before 26 February 2004 stating you were residing in Australia you may also be eligible to apply for Australian Citizenship
Is it possible to get Australian Citizenship if you do not meet the basic requirements?
(Are there special circumstances that might make you eligible for Australian Citizenship?)
While 90 percent of Australian applicants meet the basic requirements for citizenship, there are special circumstances that would make you eligible. For example:
- If you were born in Papua before 16 September 1975 and one of your parents was born in Australia or was an Australian Citizen and the time of your birth; OR
- If you were born to a former Australian Citizen who lost his citizenship by acquiring the citizenship of another country; OR
- If you are an Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minor (UHM) who arrived to Australia under the age of 18, without your parents and on a protection, refugee or other humanitarian visa
What is the difference between Australian Citizenship Form 1300t and Form 1290?
You may use Form 1300t if you meet the application requirements and are in between 18 and 59 years old. Whereas you may use Form 1290 if you are 17 years old or younger, 60 years or older, or you suffer from a physical disability.
How long does it take to become a citizen?
After filing your citizenship application, the DIBP will aim to process your application within 3 months, but there is always the possibility of a backlog of applications and other delays.
How much does applying for citizenship cost?
There are a few different fees associated with applying for citizenship. The government fees range between $180 - $285 depending on the form you use to file. Immigration Direct charges a service fee of $165 for access to our immigration software service which allows you to easily prepare and manage your application.
- If you file using Form 1300t: $285 government fee
- Form 1300t - General Eligibility is used by applicants who are between 18 and 59 years old.
- If you file using Form 1290: $180 government fee
- Form 1290 - Other Situations is used by applicants who are aged 60 and over, have a physical or mental inability
- If your file using Form 118: $230 government fee
- Form 118 - Citizenship by Descent is used by applicants who have at least one parent who was an Australian Citizen.