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visa changes

Australian citizenship changes – again!

On 20 April 2017, the Australian Government announced a series of changes to the Australian citizenship requirements.

After the legislation necessary to implement these changes was introduced into Parliament it became clear that the government would not receive sufficient support to have the legislation passed and so, on 18 October 2017, proposed amendments to the Bill were announced.

Subject to the passing of the proposed amended legislation, the new requirements for citizenship will come into effect on 1 July 2018 and include:

  • increasing the general residence requirement, which means applicants for Australian citizenship will need to have a minimum of four years permanent residence immediately prior to their application for citizenship with no more than one year spent outside Australia during that period
  • completing a separate English language test, where applicants will need to demonstrate English language listening, speaking, reading and writing skills at the modest level before applying for citizenship by conferral
  • strengthening the Australian values statement to include reference to allegiance to Australia and requiring applicants to undertake to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community
  • strengthening the test for Australian citizenship through the addition of new test questions about Australian values and the privileges and responsibilities of Australian citizenship
  • a requirement for applicants to demonstrate their integration into the Australian community
  • strengthening the pledge to refer to allegiance to Australia, and extending the requirement to make the pledge to applicants aged 16 years and over for all streams of citizenship by application, including citizenship by descent, adoption and resumption.

What does this mean for persons who have already applied for citizenship?

Applications for Australian citizenship lodged up to 30 June 2018 will be assessed against the eligibility criteria in place when the application was made.

Applications on or after 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation)

From 1 July 2018 (subject to the passage of legislation), the new requirements for Australian citizenship will take effect. If you apply for Australian citizenship on or after this date, your application will be assessed against the new requirements.

Further information

Please contact us if you require more information.

Employer Nomination Scheme S/C 186 Visa - Changes Commence

Further to the announcement earlier in the year by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) the first wave of amendments to the Employer Nomination Scheme have been released, with most changes taking effect from 1 July 2017. 

The major talking points from these amendments include:

  • The reduction of the upper age limit from 49 to 44 years of age for an applicant (Direct Entry Stream);
  • The removal of the exemption from providing a skills assessment due to earnings being above the high income threshold (Direct Entry Stream);
  • The removal of the exemption from providing evidence of competent English due to earnings being above the high income threshold (Direct Entry Stream);
  • A change in the level of English Language Skill required by primary applicants (Temporary Residence Transition Stream).  This change has increased the requirements from vocational to competent which in practice this means an IELTS test score of at least 6 in all bands (or equivalent test); and
  • The introduction of specific requirements, for particular occupations (known as caveats) for applications made under the Direct Entry program.  This now mirrors that which applies under the Temporary Work 457 visa program which was originally introduced in April 2017. 

High Income Threshold Exemptions
While most of the above reforms apply on to applications lodged after 1st July 2017, both the English Language and Skills Assessment exemptions where the High Income Threshold was met were retrospectively applied to applications lodged but not finally determined by that date.  The subsequent media release made by the DIBP clarifying that these amendments would not be applied to applications lodged before 1 July 2017 has not yet been backed by formal legislative amendment supporting this statement.

Reforms Overall
In an earlier blog post we outlined the timetable of changes which is taking place.  The above represents step one of the broader reform agenda due to affect both the Temporary Work Visa program (Subclass 457) and the Employer Nomination Scheme (Subclass 186). This agenda will see changes rolled out on an on-going basis until March 2018, by which time all announced reforms will have been implemented. 

Whether you are an individual visa holder considering how these changes affect you personally or an employer wondering how these and the further proposed changes affect your ability to recruit globally please feel free to contact us at Nevett Ford to see how we are able to assist.