The government has advised that a package of reforms will apply to Citizenship applications received on or after 20 April 2017. The Government has also advised that the new Citizenship legislation for these reforms will not be introduced immediately but will be introduced by the end of 2017.
The package of reforms includes the following:
- Increase in general residence requirement to a minimum of four years permanent residence immediately prior to application for citizenship
- Need to demonstrate competent English prior to sitting the citizenship test
- Strengthening the Australian values statement to include reference to allegiance to Australia and require applicants to make an undertaking to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community
- Strengthen the test for Australian citizenship with the addition of new test questions about Australian values, privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship
- Introducing a requirement for applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community by providing documentation to the effect that people who can work are working, or are actively looking for work or seeking to educate themselves; that people are contributing to the community by being actively involved in community or voluntary organisations; that people are properly paying their taxes and ensuring their children are being educated and criminal records and adherence to social security laws will also be relevant
- Strengthening the Pledge of commitment in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 to refer to allegiance to Australia and extending the requirement for individuals over 16 years of age to make the Pledge of commitment to all streams of citizenship by application, including citizenship by descent, adoption and resumption.