The Australian Government will be reintroducing the Australian Citizenship Legislation Bill 2017 (the bill) that failed to gain support from Labor or the crossbench just over a week ago. The revised policy will be reintroduced with a minor amendment to the English level requirements from “competent” to “modest”. The proposed amended bill, subject to its passage of legislation will come into effect on 1 July 2018.

According to the International Language Testing System (IELTS), a “modest” level of English generally means that people can communicate in most situations while they may struggle in an academic environment.

However, Labor’s spokesman Tony Burke has reiterated that the current English level test of conversational level English is still the most appropriate benchmark.

By and large, the revised bill will still consist of many changes to the citizenship process proposed by the Federal Government in April 2017.

  • The bill will impose an increase in the general residence requirements, meaning applicants for Australian citizenship will have to have a minimum of 4 years permanent residency immediately before lodging their citizenship application with no more than one year having been spent outside Australia in that period.
  • The Australian values statement will also be strengthened to refer to an applicant’s allegiance to Australia and demonstrating their integration and contribution to the Australian community.
  • This will be accompanied by additional new test questions about Australian values and the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship.
  • Lastly, the pledge will be amended to refer to an applicant’s allegiance to Australia and extending the requirement for the pledge to be made by applicants 16 years and over.

Henceforth, subject to the bill passing applicants who apply after 1 July 2018 will be assessed against the new requirement.

It is strongly recommended that any person eligible to apply for Citizenship based on the current laws (broadly, four years residence, and at least one year as a permanent resident) make necessary arrangements to lodge an application prior to the expected date of the new bill being introduced.

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