The government wants to implement new and tougher Australian citizenship requirements. These reforms were presented in Bill 2017 and were defeated in the Senate. However, the Government has been working on a revised version, but there is no date yet as to when the revised Bill would be brought again for a debate in Parliament.
If approved by the Parliament, Australian citizenship will be more difficult to get.
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 proposed rules (subject to the passage of legislation):
New Australian citizenship: residency requirement
If approved by the Parliament, applicants for Australian citizenship will need to have a minimum of four years of permanent residency immediately prior to their application for citizenship (as opposed to 1 year right now) with no more than one year spent outside Australia during that period.
New Australian citizenship: English language test
If approved by the Parliament, all applicants will have to demonstrate their proficiency in the English language by passing a stand-alone English test which will include speaking, listening, reading and writing components. Applicants must pass this English language test before taking the citizenship test. Applicants must pass this English language test at the modest level before applying for citizenship by conferral.
New Australian citizenship: citizenship test
If approved by the Parliament, 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.
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 current system, citizenship applications are 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: demonstration of integration
If approved by the Parliament, applicants will 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).
New Australian citizenship: citizenship test attempts limited
If approved by the Parliament, the new rules stipulate that after 3 citizenship test failures, the applicant must wait 2 years before retaking the test (the current system allowed applicants to retake the test as many times as they wanted).
As well, applicants who cheat during their test will be denied citizenship.
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