The news on tougher requirements to gain citizenship was disappointing news for many. With the Bill in review, dissent within the government is also emerging.
The new citizenship requirements include:
- The applicant must have been a permanent resident for at least four years before they can apply (previously one year permanent residency and total four years residence)
- The applicant must meet a minimum competent level English language ability (competent level scores likely to be the same as required for GSM English requirements)
- A new citizenship test with questions aiming to judge the applicant’s understanding of and commitment to Australia’s values and responsibilities. The applicant has a maximum of three tries to pass this test (previously unlimited tries)
- The applicant must show how they have integrated into and contribute to the Australian community (e.g. evidence of employment, membership of community organisation and school enrolment for all eligible children
- Introducing an automatic fail for applicants who cheat during the citizenship test
These requirements has been touted as a move to only let in those who are committed to Australian values, but then begs the question – does a higher standard of English competency equate to being more ‘Australian’?
There has also been an attempt to be justify the increased requirements with the issue of national security. With it being a growing issue all over the world, national security has become a go-to marketing tool. However, it is hard to see a clear relationship between terrorism being avoided through a longer permanent residency requirement and higher English standards , as Australia’s security can as easily be hurt by someone who is still on their permanent residency, already citizen, or born and bred Australian. A person who is a national security threat will not necessarily be someone who has poor English competency either.
Immigration minister Peter Dutton is also to receive extended powers to overrule tribunal decisions that he disagrees with.
“But Mr Dutton argued the new powers were a “modernisation” of the system to better reflect public expectations. His department was “best placed” to make decisions on citizenship, he said, because it had access to all the relevant facts. And claimants would still have avenues for appeal to the Federal Court and, if applicable, the High Court.”
– Sydney Morning Herald
With the recent landslide in changes to immigration regulations, we wonder if this is reflective of the Australian community’s discomfort with immigrants or a move toward politicians accumulation of power.
If all this wasn’t enough, One Nation leader Pauline Hanson is even calling for the permanent residency requirement to be extended to eight years.
Lawyers, law professionals and immigration spokespersons have questioned these moves and described them as “draconian” and a shows a “growing imbalance of power”. Labor has accused Mr Dutton of now having fully briefed the party on the proposed changes to citizenship laws as well. Some Labour MPs have brought up concerns that the English requirements are unfair, being that some Australians themselves would fail to pass these tests.
Australia seems split on its attitude towards immigrants, we can only wonder what the future is for immigrants and potential immigrants.
Managing Director, Australian Immigration Law Services