Last modified: 17 March 2019
The Australian Government has made several attempts recently to change the eligibility criteria for Permanent Residents wanting to apply for citizenship. The biggest impact for New Zealanders would be having to reside for four years as a Permanent Resident immediately prior to applying for citizenship.
Citizenship applicants currently must reside for four years, with at least the last 12 months as a Permanent Resident. Time spent residing as a Special Category Visa-holder counts towards three of the four years.
The LNP government still propose to change the eligibility criteria for Australian citizenship. Outlined below is a timeline of recently proposed citizenship legislation.
Citizenship changes back on the agenda
11 August 2018
Peter Dutton announced that he would introduce new citizenship legislation during August 2018, but had not done so prior to the Liberal Party leadership challenge in late August 2018.
New Prime Minister Scott Morrison removed Immigration, Citizenship & Multicultural Affairs from the Home Affairs portfolio. David Coleman was appointed Minister of Immigration and will be responsible for any new citizenship legislation being tabled in the House of Representatives.
Status: the Citizenship Amendment Bill (2018) may be tabled in the Senate during the next Parliamentary sitting dates. Check the House of Representatives Latest Daily Program for information about legislation before the House.
Hanson Citizenship Bill
08 March 2018
Senator Pauline Hanson introduced a Private Members Bill to the Senate in March 2018. The Bill re-presents the Citizenship Legislation Amendment Bill (2017) and is unlikely to pass. The key difference is the requirement for citizenship applicants to have resided as a permanent resident for at least EIGHT years before they are eligible to apply.
Status: Hanson’s Citizenship Legislation Amendment Bill (2018) has been referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee for an inquiry. The Committee’s report, released on 15 March 2019, recommended the Bill not be passed and it is unlikely to happen before the 2019 Federal election.
Dutton to overhaul citizenship rules
01 July 2018
Status: Peter Dutton did not introduce new citizenship legislation before 1 July 2018.
Citizenship Bill struck down by Senate
20 October 2017
Status: the Citizenship Amendment Bill (2017) did not proceed.
Senate enquiry into the Citizenship Amendment Bill
22 June 2017
The Citizenship Amendment Bill (2017) was referred to a Senate Committee inquiry on 22 June 2017. Oz Kiwi made a submission to the Senate Committee Inquiry in July 2017 and were called as witnesses at a Senate Committee hearing in August 2017.
Proposed citizenship changes
20 April 2017
- extending from one to four years the time an applicant must have been a permanent resident; and
- putting into the citizenship test “more meaningful questions that assess an applicant’s
understanding of – and commitment to – our shared values and responsibilities”.
Home Affairs introduced a processing freeze for applications received after 20 April 2017. More stringent security checks and the processing freeze have seen the backlog of citizenship applications grow to over 200,000 applications, and processing times have increased from between 14 and 16 months in October 2017, to between 16 and 19 months in November 2018. Processing times are likely to increase even more.
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