Australian Citizenship Bill Released

Changes to the requirements for Australian citizenship were announced on 20 April 2017. The draft legislation to enact these changes has now been released. The Bill indicates following changes will be effective for any applications for citizenship lodged on or after 20 April 2017:

New General Residence Requirement — You must in have been present in Australia for a period of 4 years as a permanent resident. You must not have been unlawful at any stage during the 4 years

Competent English Requirement — you will need to demonstrate Competent English — this would require at least 6 in each band of IELTS or equivalent

Strengthened Character Requirements

The Bill gives the Minister more power to do the following where there are character concerns:

  1. Refuse Citizenship applications
  2. Delay processing of citizenship applications by deferring the date for the Pledge of Allegiance — this delay could be up to 2 years
  3. Cancelling approval of citizenship prior to the Pledge of Allegiance being taken
  4. Cancelling approval after the Pledge of Allegiance

Children under 18 will now need to meet the character requirement. Children 16 years or over will need to undergo police checks. Where there are known issues, Immigration may look into character for applicants aged under 16 years as well.

Where incorrect information is provided, this can result revocation of Australian citizenship. This can relate to:

  1. The application for Australian citizenship
  2. Entry to Australia — presumably this might include information on incoming passenger cards
  3. Previous visa applications

The fraud or misrepresentation may have been done by a third party, and includes concealing relevant information. Any fraud or misrepresentation which has occurred up to 10 years prior to the revocation can be considered.

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