13 September 2012

Australian citizenship fast track for military families

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The Australian government has announced plans to attract more overseas recruits for its armed forces by offering to accelerate Australian citizenship applications for family members.

Australia visa

Family members of overseas recruits to the Australian armed forces will soon be eligble for accelerated citizenship.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) currently runs a recruitment program designed to sponsor currently serving or ex-servicemen and women from the British armed forces.

However, until now, family members of transferred military personnel were expected to obtain an Australia visa through regular channels if they wished to move to Australia with their family member.

But now Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Defence Minister Warren Snowdon have said family members of current and future recruits will be eligible for accelerated citizenship applications.

"The government recognises that families who support ADF members serving Australia should be able to build a close and continuing relationship with Australia at the same time as their serving family members," said Mr Bowen.

"We are providing families with earlier eligibility for citizenship to assist them with settling in Australia, including providing access to employment opportunities and educational assistance."

In order for family members to qualify for the new scheme, the lateral recruit must have been granted an Australia visa after 1 July, 2007 and have served 90 days in either the permanent or reserve forces of any of the three military branches.

"These amendments will assist Australia to attract personnel to highly specialised roles within the ADF as they will provide tangible benefits to lateral recruits' migrating families," said Mr Snowdon.

"Over the past five years the ADF has recruited over 500 members from overseas. Fast-tracking citizenship for their families will ease some of the stress associated with such a significant move."

The changes are expected to come into effect as of 1 January, 2013.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people lodge applications with the Australian Embassy.

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