In April 2017 The Government in Australia announced a revamp of its Australian citizenship law. It proposed an English language test and also enhanced the waiting period for P.Rs before they became eligible for applying seeking citizenship. There was dilution in the proposed changes after the opposition from political parties, and the law was not passed.
The Government did not bring the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment Bill for a parliamentary discussion. Moreover, in Oct 2017, the legislation was removed from the Senate notice paper after the Greens moved against it.
Initially in the proposed changes, the government stressed on the fact, that the migrants must prove competence in English proficiency. They also had to secure 6 bands on the I.E.L.T.S test to satisfy the eligibility norms for Australian citizenship. Later the government reduced the English requirement to 5 bands.
Moreover there were Changes in the general residence norms. Presently, migrants who live in Australia for four years and one year as P.Rs, can apply seeking citizenship. The government now proposes to enhance the period of stay to four years, not considering the time spent, before attaining permanent residency.
The government was having consultations regarding major elements of the citizenship law. Moreover there is no decision on the exact formula and people to attain a level of English proficiency before becoming citizens. There is no comment on the date of debating the Bill in the Parliament.
The Government also said that it will implement the changes in July 2018, after passing the law. Additionally, the Government was not successful, as it failed to have the sufficient numbers, in the Senate. The federal elections will be held in May 2019.
Three Senate sittings
There is likelihood of three Senate sittings till the holding of election. There is opposition by Greens and Labor, regarding any changes in the General Residence or in English language norms. Thus the Government needs support of the cross bench senators for passing these changes.
Pauline Hanson’s Bill
Pauline Hanson has a Bill, that seeking waiting period of eight years for migrants, before they submit an application for citizenship. It is facing a delay now. It is before a Senate committee and its findings will be available only in March 2019.