18 September 2006

New requirements for Australian Citizenship

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New residence requirements will mean migrants will have to wait a minimum of four years before being able to apply for Australian Citizenship. Currently the minimum period is two years. The Australian Government made the announcement today.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Robb, said people would be required to have a minimum of four years lawful residence in Australia immediately prior to applying for Citizenship.

"This change together with the proposed citizenship test, with its English language requirement, will help ensure citizenship applicants have had sufficient time in Australia to become familiar with our way of life and appreciate the commitment they are making when they become citizens," Mr Robb said.

Mr Robb said the new requirements also recognised the changes in the migration programme over the past four years.

He said increasing numbers of people spent significant periods of time in Australia as temporary residents prior to becoming permanent residents - this was why only one of the four years spent in Australia had to be as a permanent resident.

Mr Robb said absences from Australia of up to 12 months would be allowed during the four year period but people would not be allowed to spend more than three months away from Australia in the year before applying for citizenship.

"People who are already permanent residents will only be required to meet the current two year residential qualifying period provided they apply for citizenship within three years of the commencement of the Act," he said.

Mr Robb said the Government would be moving amendments to the citizenship legislation currently before the Parliament and he expected the new laws to come into effect in the new year.

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