Immigration Minister Peter Dutton on Thursday said he won’t abandon the changes to Australia’s citizenship laws, despite the proposal being struck off in the Senate on Wednesday.

English requirement will be lowered to Band 5 and the new changes will be implemented on 1st July 2018, says Mr Dutton, who is negotiating with crossbenchers to bring the bill back.

The bill failed to materialise despite government’s last-ditch effort to water down the English requirement from 『competent’ to 『modest’, abolish the plan to implement the bill retrospectively and delay the implementation to July 2018.

Note: You will not be affected by the new requirements if you are eligible for the current requirement and made the application before 1st July 2018.

What’s new for Australian citizenship

Strengthening the requirements for Australian citizenship

On 20 April 2017, the Australian Government announced it is strengthening the integrity of Australian citizenship. The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 (the Bill) was introduced into Parliament on 15 June 2017. On 18 October 2017, the Government proposed amendments to the Bill.

What are the new requirements?

As a result of the proposed amendments and subject to the passage of legislation, the new requirements for citizenship will come into effect on 1 July 2018 and include:

  • increasing the general residence requirement, which means applicants for Australian citizenship will need to have a minimum of four years permanent residence immediately prior to their application for citizenship with no more than one year spent outside Australia during that period
  • completing a separate English language test, where applicants will need to demonstrate English language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills at the modest level before applying for citizenship by conferral
  • strengthening the Australian values statement to include reference to allegiance to Australia and requiring applicants to undertake to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community
  • strengthening the test for Australian citizenship through the addition of new test questions about Australian values and the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship
  • a requirement for applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community
  • strengthening the pledge to refer to allegiance to Australia, and extending the requirement to make the pledge to applicants aged 16 years and over for all streams of citizenship by application, including citizenship by descent, adoption and resumption.

What does this mean for people who have already applied for Australian citizenship?

If you applied before, on or after 20 April 2017

If you applied for Australian citizenship before, on or after 20 April 2017, your application will be assessed against the eligibility criteria in place when you applied. If your application has not yet been finalised, we will write to you when it reaches the next stage of processing, or if we require any further information or documents.

What will this mean for people who apply for Australian citizenship in the future?

If you apply before 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation)

If you apply before 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation), your application will be assessed against the current eligibility criteria.

If you apply on or after 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation)

From 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation), the new requirements for Australian citizenship will take effect. If you apply for Australian citizenship on or after this date, your application will be assessed against the new requirements.