Australian citizenship applicants will need to sit English test before applying

by Ray Clancy on June 15, 2017

in Australia Immigration

The details of the proposed new citizenship test in Australia have been revealed and will include a stand-alone English test that will need to be taken before making an application.

The Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 introduced into parliament says that those wanting to apply to be a citizen will need to prove they have a competent level of English before doing so.

(dolgachov/Bigstock.com)

The new test will assess their level of reading, writing, listening and speaking in English. People aged over 60 and children under 16 will be exempt, as will those with hearing, speech or sight impairments or permanent or enduring physical or mental incapacity.

‘The English language is essential to economic participation and social cohesion. There is also strong public support to ensure aspiring citizens are fully able to participate in Australian life by speaking English, our national language,’ Immigration Minister Peter Dutton told parliament.

The bill outlines changes that have already been flagged up including the period of permanent residency to be eligible for citizenship increasing from one year to four, a new values test and stronger character checks.
Dutton said that potential citizens will also need to demonstrate their integration into the community, including by ‘behaving in a manner consistent with Australian values’.

Under the plans the pledge of commitment will be renamed and become a pledge of allegiance. If an applicant is refused they will not be able to re-apply for two year unless the rejection was on the grounds of failing to meet the residency requirement.

‘This Bill puts into effect requirements that applicants will pledge their allegiance to Australia and undertake to uphold Australian values and demonstrate their contribution to the Australian community,’ Dutton said.

‘Australian citizenship is an extraordinary privilege and is a common bond which unites us all, whether we were born here or choose to make Australia our home. Australian citizenship involves a commitment to this country and its people. It is a privilege which should not be taken lightly,’ he added.

Under the proposals Dutton will have discretionary powers to set the integration test and the Australian Values Statement that applicants must sign. He has indicated that applicants will have to prove that, over four years, they have been employed, and not received welfare payments, have engaged with local organisations, and their children have not been in trouble with the police.

He will also have new powers to arbitrarily reject applications if a person has been assessed as a risk to security or he is no longer satisfied that the applicant has displayed behaviour consistent with Australian values.

At this stage it is unlikely that there will be any extra help for those wishing to pass the English test. Dutton dismissed calls for the Government to provide English language courses to assist applicants pass the test. He said people would need to help themselves and use online learning abilities, workplace abilities to improve their English.

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