Australian government toughens citizenship test

April 21, 2017

The Federal Government of Australia has adopted a new stance on eligibility for Australian citizenship. In a statement released by the Australian government on 20 April 2017, a sweeping redraft of Australian citizenship laws is underway.

For Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, new arrivals in the country must embrace Australian values and prove their commitment to integration for them to be awarded citizenship.

“Membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be afforded to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia," PM Turnbull said.

There is a particular focus on English-language proficiency, in which applicants are required to pass a “higher-standard” language test to qualify for citizenship. They will also have to wait for another two years to retake the test should they fail it three times.

The Australian Values Statement in application forms for visas and citizenship will also be strengthened and will include reference to allegiance to the country.

Applicants will also be required to commit to several undertakings that will demonstrate their loyalty to Australia. And they have to prove it by being part of the community. Evidence of being integrated into the Australian community can extend to providing evidence of employment, school enrolment for eligible children, membership of community organisations, etc.

Clearly, the government is putting a higher premium on responsible citizens—or those who contribute to the national economy.

The existing Australian citizenship test will also be amended to ensure that citizenship will be granted to those who deserve it. This test will soon include new questions on Australian values, privileges, and the responsibilities of Australian citizenship.

The Pledge of Commitment in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 will be strengthened as well. Individuals aged 16 years and above will be required to make the Pledge of Commitment for all streams of citizenship by application, which includes citizenship by descent, adoption, and resumption.

There’s a lot of time for the applicants to meet these requirements, though. Now, permanent residents of Australia must wait four years before they can apply for citizenship, as opposed to the previous requirement of at least one-year as a permanent resident. They can use this time to brush up on their language skills, learn more about the country, seek employment, or do some volunteering.

All citizenship-related legislation will be introduced to Parliament by the end of this year. But all changes will immediately be applied to applications received on or after the Government’s announcement on 20 April 2017.

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