New Australian citizenship requirements 2017: major changes make it more difficult to become an Australian

New Australian citizenship man showing passport

Australian citizenship is now much more difficult to get. The government has implemented new and tougher requirements that are applicable to all citizenship applications made on or after 20 April 2017 (applications made before 20 April 2017 follow the old rules). Some requirements still need to be enacted by legislature and the government will inform you of the changes and of any additional documentation that would need to be provided to support your application.

Australian values are now at the core of the citizenship application process. The government states that Australian citizenship is a privilege and will be granted only to applicants who embrace Australian values, respect the laws, work hard, and integrate into Australian society.

Here are the new rules:

New Australian citizenship 2017: residency requirement

Applicants for Australian citizenship must now have lived as permanent residents in Australia, for at least 4 years prior to applying (as opposed to 1 year under the old system).

New Australian citizenship 2017: English language test

All applicants must now demonstrate their proficiency in the English language by passing a stand-alone English test (equivalent to IELTS level 6) which will include speaking, listening, reading and writing components. Applicants must pass this English language test before taking the citizenship test.

New Australian citizenship 2017: citizenship test

The new citizenship test will still have questions from the study guide, “Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond”, but will also include new questions about the applicant’s understanding of and commitment to Australian values.

Between now and 1 June 2017, the government will consult the public on which “Australian values” questions to ask.

The new potential questions will test migrants for example on their views about gender equality and religious freedom. The new questions will include issues such as violence against women and children, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

Also, under the old system, citizenship applications were rejected if the applicant was convicted of a serious offence. The government now views this as insufficient. The new test will look deeper into the applicant’s history for all offences, including minor ones, which are not acceptable by the standard Australian values, such as welfare abuse.

Here are some of the “Australian values” questions under consideration:

“Under what circumstances is it appropriate to prohibit girls from education?”

“Does Australia’s principle of freedom of religion mean that it is permissible to force children to marry?”
“In Australia’s multicultural society, under which circumstances is it permissible to cut female genitals?”
“While it is illegal to use violence in public, under what circumstances can you strike your spouse in the privacy of your own home?”

New Australian citizenship 2017: demonstration of integration

Applicants will now have to prove that they have integrated into Australian society. They will be required to produce evidence of integration, such as proof of tax payments, school enrolment for children, employment, and club memberships.

For example, the government wants to see proof that applicants who are of working age have actually worked and that every applicant’s child of school age has been taking advantage of the great Australian education system and attended school (instead of, for example, being involved in gang violence and breaking laws). These are examples of adopting Australian values and contributing to society.

New Australian citizenship 2017: citizenship test attempts limited

The new rules stipulate that after 3 citizenship test failures, the applicant must wait 2 years before retaking the test (the old system allowed applicants to retake the test as many times as they wanted).

As well, applicants who cheat during their test will now be denied citizenship.

Our Australian Citizenship Test Training Program prepares you for the citizenship test portion based on the study guide “Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond”. We will add new “Australian values” questions as they become official and available.

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