Australia sees rush of applications for citizenship as future of change is uncertain

by Ray Clancy on October 25, 2017

in Australia

Permanent residents in Australia are rushing to put in citizenship applications after the Government’s failure to get a new bill with sweeping changes through Parliament.

The changes, which would have included a tougher English test and increase the permanent residency qualification from one year to four years, have been put on hold.

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They were to have been backdated to the date the bill was announced in April and due to take full effect in the New Year, but now the bill is having to be reconsidered as the Government does currently not have enough support in Parliament to push the changes through.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has already indicated that he is willing to reduce the English test level and confirmed that those waiting for applications to be processed who have been in limbo since April will not have them assessed under the old rules.

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) confirmed that it has seen a high number of applications for Australian citizenship in recent days after applications fell to a record low due to uncertainty over the changes.

‘Since the announcement last week there’s been another surge,’ DIBP Christine Dacey told Senate Estimates on Monday. ‘There was a very large spike on or about the 20th of April, and then there was kind of a plateau, which was lower than compared to 12 months ago,’ she said.

It is estimated that around 118,000 people are currently waiting for their Australian citizenship applications to be processed by immigration department officials.

Dutton is now trying to gain crossbench support and re-introduce the bill and has offered to water down some of the more controversial parts of the bill including the English language requirements.

He needs support from the Nick Xenophon Team voting bloc for the Government to pass the legislation but NXT has, so far, said it will not budge. Dutton has said that he hopes to have an amended bill ready soon.

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