By Thay Horn Yim
Good news! The controversial proposed citizenship laws have not changed.
The Australian Government has been trying to introduce changes that would require permanent residents to provide evidence of their English proficiency and to increase the minimum permanent residency period to four years – regardless of the previous time spent in the country before applying for citizenship.
Student visa holders, 457 visa holders and temporary partner visa holders were the applicants who would have been most affected if the changes were implemented.
In 2017, the Turnbull Government’s first attempt to pass the Bill failed after staunch opposition from Labor, the Greens, and the Nick Xenophon Team.
The legislation makes several changes to citizenship requirements.
They include changing the period of permanent residency from one year to four, a modest English language requirement, a new values test, and stronger character checks.
Potential citizens will also need to demonstrate their integration into the community, including “behaving in a manner consistent with Australian values”.
But it has been confirmed that there will be no changes in the requirements.
The second worrisome news was that the Australian Government introduced a regulation to split the combined partner application into two stages; that is, into a sponsorship partner application and a visa partner application.
However, the implementation date was deferred after the Federal Election was announced.
That is good news for those who are thinking of sponsor their loved ones.
They should consider lodging their partner applications as soon as possible to take advantage of the deferment.
Late last year the Government introduced a regulation to put more onerous, two-stage applications for partner visas that could take up to five years.
The regulation provision was supposed to come into force by 12 June 2019.
It would require a sponsor to apply, pay a fee and be approved before a partner visa application could be lodged validly.
This is currently not a requirement; this is known as a ‘combined application’.
The partner visa application fee is alone exorbitant -in excess of $7200 to the Department of Home Affairs (DHA).
And sponsors would have paid a separate sponsorship application fee on top of this.
There is a big relief that the changes of citizenship requirements and the sponsorship partner applications are not going to be affected.