Turnbull changes Australian citizenship laws: English fluency now required for migrants

By @chelean on
Turnbull, Dutton
Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (L) and Minister for Immigration and Border Protection Peter Dutton speak on Australia's citizenship test during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, April 20, 2017. Reuters/Lukas Coch

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has announced the changes to Australia’s citizenship laws. Prospective migrants must be fluent English speakers and should show efforts to integrate into the community.

On Thursday, the federal government released the new requirements for passing citizenship in the country. Turnbull said the changes will put “Australian values at the heart of citizenship processes and requirements.”

“Membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be granted to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia,” a joint media release from Turnbull and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton reads.

New changes to the Australian citizenship laws

  • All applicants are required to pass a standalone English test, which includes reading, writing, listening and speaking components;
  • All applicants must have lived in Australia as a permanent resident for at least four years (current requirement is only at one year);
  • The citizenship test will have new and “more meaningful” questions that assess an applicant’s understanding of and commitment to Australia’s values and responsibilities;
  • Applicants must show steps they have taken to integrate into and contribute to the community. These may include proof of employment, membership to community organisations, and school enrolment of children;
  • Applicants may now only fail their citizenship test up to three times. Currently, there is no limit to the number of times they can fail the test;
  • There will also be an automatic fail for applicants who cheat during the citizenship test.

“I don’t think we should be ashamed of saying that we want people who are going to abide by the law, people who are going to pick up Australian values, still honour their heritage, but when you’re in Australia, you abide by Australian laws, you abide by our values,” Dutton told reporters.

It was not specified how the government would assess “Australian values” in the test. It will instead consult with the public before settling on the questions included. However, it specifically said that those with criminal history – including being involved in violence against women and children, as well as in gangs and organised crimes – will be barred from getting citizenship.

The changes to the citizenship laws follow the abolition of the 457 visa on Tuesday. Turnbull said the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa would instead be replaced with the new Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa in March 2018 in a bid to “put Australia first.”

Read more:
Australia's new 457 visa: Changes, requirements and validity period
BREAKING NEWS: Australian Government abolishes 457 visa, replaces it with two new visas

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