Yes, that’s right. The Australian Government is bringing back the discussion on changing Australian citizenship requirements. In the coming spring session in September 2018, the proposed changes to Australian citizenship are back on the agenda as a priority.
This means the government will discuss the implementation of a ‘package of reforms designed to strengthen the requirements to become and remain and Australian citizen, including in relation to residency, English language, Australian values, integration into the Australian community and good character’.
These changes were announced on 20 April 201 for the first time and the Government tried to have them take effect on the same day. Fortunately for many, a Bill had to be drafted and passed through Parliament first, which then failed on 18 October 2017.
What are the proposed changes?
If the new requirements come into effect, applicants will:
- Prove they have lived in Australia for at least 4 years as a permanent resident
- Prove they have passed an English test; the recommended level would be competent English
- Prove they have passed a new citizenship test designed to assess the understanding of, and commitment to Australian values
- Have to pass the test within the first 3 attempts (currently no limit to the number of times it can be failed). If applicants are cheating during the test, they might get an automatic fail.
When will the changes be introduced?
This is dealt on a priority basis. The legislation needs to first be discussed and then passed by Parliament. This has been a topic of discussions for more than 12 months, so the changes might be come into effect soon.
What should you do now?
If you fulfil the current requirements for Australian citizenship, consider lodging the application soon.
If you lodge now and the legislation is passed after you have lodged but before a decision is made on your application, the new changes may be retrospective, which means your application could get refused. However, while you will not get back the application fee of $285, the refusal will not have an effect on your PR or any other consequences.
Fortunately, the majority of legislative changes have not been applied in retrospective, which would be a good reason to lodge your application now if you can.
You you can obviously also wait for the changes to come into effect but bare in mind that that would mean an additional 3 years on a permanent residence visa.
Source: Strengthening the integrity of Australian citizenship