Changes to Australian citizenship requirements

Publish Date: May 01, 2017

Author: Gabriel Mackenzie

The Australian Government has announced changes to Australian citizenship requirements which are effective 20 April 2017.

The changes will require:

  1. That applicants hold their Australian permanent residence for longer
  2. Formal English language testing
  3. A revised Citizenship test
  4. Evidence that applicants show that they have integrated into Australian society

Changes to General Residence Requirement

Applicants for citizenship by conferral would generally need to show that they meet the "General Residence" requirement.

This would mean showing that they have been present in Australia for at least:

  1. The last 4 years, on any temporary, permanent or bridging visa, with a maximum of 12 months overseas; and
  2. The last 12 months, on a permanent visa, with a maximum of 3 months overseas

Previously, it was possible to count time spent in Australia on a temporary visa or bridging visa towards the 4-year requirement in (1) above.

The announced changes would require that applicants hold a permanent visa for 4 years before applying. This would potentially require applicants to wait a further 3 years before applying for Australian citizenship.

2          Changes to English Requirement

Applicants will need to show Competent English when applying for Australian citizenship - this will require many applicants to do an English test. English testing was not previously required.

Competent English would require a score of 6 in each band of IELTS, or one of the alternative tests of English.

3          New Citizenship Test

A new citizenship test will be developed which tests Australian values more thoroughly.

Applicants will be able to attempt the test a maximum of 3 times. If a person is found to be cheating on the test, this will result in an automatic fail.

4          Integration Requirement

According to the discussion paper, applicants will need to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community by providing documentation on their integration into Australian society.

This is likely to include providing evidence that you are:

  • Working, are actively looking for work or seeking to educate yourself
  • Actively involved in community or voluntary organisations
  • Properly paying your taxes
  • Ensuring your children are attending school

This article was prepared on 28 April 2017 and the law may have changed by the time you are reading it.

Book a consultation

If you are affected by the changes and wish to discuss your options, please book a consultation with one of our immigration lawyers.

This article was prepared on 1 May 2017 and the law may have changed when you read it.

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