Thursday, the Australian government announced several new reforms to their country’s citizenship application process.
In a press conference, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Minister of Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, laid out the new requirements for citizenship applicants and their reason for doing so, centered fully around the importance of applicants adopting Australian values.
Turnbull said, “We are an immigration nation, built by millions of people who have come here from every corner of the world. At its foundation is Australian citizenship, and that institution must reflect Australian values. We are not defined by race, or religion or culture – many other nations are – we are defined by commitment to common values, political values, the rule of law, democracy, freedom, mutual respect, equality for men and women… these fundamental values are what makes us Australians. Our citizenship process should reflect that, so today we are announcing changes to strengthen citizenship, to make for a stronger Australia.”
Key points to the new requirements announced include:
- Applicants will need to be a permanent resident for 4 years, before they can apply for citizenship. (Currently it is only 1 year.)
- Applicants will need to have competent English skills. “That is a vital requirement – the key to successful integration into the Australian community, to economic and social success is being able to speak English.”
- The citizenship test will enable applicants to demonstrate how they have integrated into and engaged with the Australian community and adopted Australian values and abiding by Australian laws. The values include showing respect for women and children, and honoring equality for men and women.
- Applicants must show evidence of employment and not lead a life on welfare.
- Applicants can only fail the citizenship test three times.
- Anyone who cheats during the citizenship test will get an automatic fail.
- Anyone involved in criminal activity, gangs and organized crime, including violence against women and children is considered inconsistent with Australian values.
The new requirements will reportedly apply effective April 20, 2017 for all new applications for Australian citizenship.
Turnbull said, “What we are doing is strengthening our multi-cultural society and strengthening our commitment to Australian values.” He added, “It’s important that applicants understand that they are making a commitment to our Australian values.”
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