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Australian Citizenship : Changing Times

On April 20, 2017, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that the reforms in the Australian citizenship requirements will ensure applicants are proficient in English, have been a permanent resident for at least four years and intend to embrace Australian values.

In accordance with the recent changes made, the eligibility requirements for the Australian Citizenship are as follows:

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  • Applicants are required to pass an English test, involving reading, writing, listening and speaking to demonstrate their proficiency in English. However, people aged over 60 and children under 16 will be exempt, as will those with hearing, speech or sight impairments or permanent or enduring physical or mental incapacity.

  • Applicants are required to demonstrate four years of permanent residency in Australia.

  • Applicants are required to pass the Citizenship test, which will focus on testing the applicant’s understanding of and commitment to Australian values and responsibilities.

  • Applicants will be asked questions that would reveal their perspective on religious extremism, domestic abuse, and gender equality.

  • The new system has added more in-depth questions to the “character test.” Initially, an applicant with a conviction of a serious offence was ruled out. However, applicants involved in offences like domestic violence, gang-related activity, social welfare fraud, abuse and organised crime associations will also be ruled out.

  • Applicants will be required to show the steps they have taken to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community including but not limited to proof of their employment and contribution in community organizations.

  • An applicant can attempt to give the citizenship text a maximum of three times.

  • Applicants who cheat during the citizenship test fail automatically.

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In addition to these changes, the ‘pledge of commitment’ has been renamed the ‘pledge of allegiance’.

The intention and basis behind the changes according to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is to encompass and demonstrate Australian values, “We’re defined by commitment to common values, political values, the rule of law, democracy, freedom, mutual respect, equality for men and women … and our citizenship process should reflect that.”?

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