PwC: Australian Citizenship Changes Struck Down

    Members' News  | 

    Proposed legislation outlining changes to the criteria to become an Australian citizen have been struck down.  Further to our Alert on 8 September, the changes included increased time as a permanent resident before becoming eligible for citizenship, formal English language testing and evidence of integration to the community. These changes were intended to apply to all citizenship applications received on or after 20 April 2017.

    The Citizenship Bill has been struck from parliamentary business papers yesterday as the government had run out of time to debate the Bill in the Senate. The failure of the Citizenship Bill means that citizenship applications lodged after 20 April can now be processed. The Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, has confirmed that the Department of Immigration will process pending applications under existing laws. These applications have been in a state of limbo since 20 April, as the failed Citizenship Bill would have had retrospective reach.

    This means that individuals who are eligible for Australian citizenship under current rules, but who would have been impacted by the proposed changes from making an application, may now do so. As a reminder, the current General Residence Requirement that must be met for Australian citizenship are:

    ·         Demonstrate presence in Australia for the past four years on a valid visa prior to application. A maximum period of 12 months overseas is permitted within this four year timeframe; and

    ·         Demonstrate presence in Australia for the 12 months prior to application on a permanent visa. A maximum period of three months overseas is permitted within this timeframe.

    Exceptions to the General Residence Requirement may apply in limited circumstances.

    It is unclear at this stage whether the government will introduce further citizenship bills in future. PwC will continue to monitor developments and keep you updated.

    The Takeaway

    Pending and new Australian citizenship applications will be processed under existing laws for the time being. It is unclear at this stage if or when further citizenship bills will be introduced, therefore we recommend that individuals who are interested in and eligible to apply for Australian citizenship proceed to do so. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your PwC Immigration team contact for assistance in determining your eligibility for Australian citizenship and to make an application.

    PwC Australia: 19 October 2017

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