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Changes to Australian Citizenship 2017

Many or most have heard the press releases about the changes to eligibility to Australian Citizenship By Grant. That is, the ability of migrants to Australian to take the plunge and become fully-fledged Australians themselves. The rules have changed, and short of press releases by Malcolm Turnbull and Peter Dutton, everyone is largely in the dark. And this includes Down Under Visa clients and any of you in Australian Filipina relationships.

New Australian Citizenship 2017

See? Some of my best friends are……

Reasons for Citizenship changes

I try hard to keep out of politics, especially with anything to do with Down Under Visa. Religion and politics are things that people hold close to their hearts. However despite overall political viewpoints and party loyalties, there is the politician with the best interests of their country and heart who plows ahead with policies they believe in, and there are those who act to make themselves more popular to prop up their apparent failure to impress the public.

This appears….in my humble opinion… be something to appeal to the lowest common denominator of the Australian psyche by playing the race card and the “jobs for Australians” card! I can’t see any sound reason for any of this, apart from looking like the great patriot by cracking down on these migrants.

Again in my opinion, I would think that in an increasingly divisive world that getting stuck into those who have chosen to make Australia their home, achieves very little that is positive and good for the country. Yes, the “.…their takin’ our jobs, an’ they don’ even speak Inggglish!” crowd may be impressed, but does alienating those spouses of Australian men and women, or those skilled professionals who have (and would have in the future) contributed to the advancement of the country really help? Is it going to make anyone feel a part of a country and a people who want them, and less likely to want to join ISIS? I doubt it!

But anyway……onto the changes!

The Citizenship changes, as we understand them

Three main areas of change:

  • Residency requirement
  • Integration into the Australian community
  • Changes to the Citizenship test


Previously: 4 years in total, with 1 year as a permanent resident

New: 4 years as a permanent resident, with no idea on the total. For partner visas, obviously this will mean at least 6 years in total. Obviously disappointing to those who were ready and able to take the plunge already.

Integration into the Australian community

Needing to demonstrate integration into the Australian community: Employment, membership of community organisations, etc.: Sounds reasonable on the surface, but not everyone is overly extroverted. One wonders how fairly they will measure this?

English skills: This is a new one, and a really scary one. They have long used the IELTS system for assessing the English skills of those applying for employment-based visas, and I suspect they will use the same. Reading, writing, listening and speaking assessment!

Now, that might be fine for those in their 20’s who grew up in Manila and were educated in private schools and had their tuition in English. But for a Filipina who is older and grew up in the provinces and had public school education? This could be a real struggle. If you were going to worry about any area in particular? This would be the one! If my wife weren’t an Aussie Citizen already, I’d be making some moves to get her to start improving on those four areas. Accents, and getting “f” and “p”  and “b” and “v” mixed up, and the “he” and “she”? Much of this will depend on the band-score that they end up setting for this.

Citizenship test

Maximum of three tries only: Scary prospect

Automatic refusal in cases of cheating: fair enough, I suppose

“More meaningful questions” to be included: I can still remember when this was first introduced, and had questions about Don Bradman and some snooker player. Fingers crossed on this one! And obviously native English speakers will be at an advantage, whereas those who are not….and again are older and/or less educated….will be at a distinct disadvantage, which the last time I looked had nothing to do with their value as human beings. Oh well!

So there you have it. This is what we know so far. Shall let you know when anything new comes to hand.

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  1. Rodney Daniher

    I have been going through the partner visa process with my new wife from Zambia Africa and have been an avid reader of your information and education on the process and yes we just have to play the game and jump all the hurdles placed in front of us ….I absolutely couldn’t agree more with you opening paragraphs ….so we will soldier on and pray that this type of fear mongering politics for votes doesn’t continue or succeed….keep up your good work..all the best

  2. Julienne Rudolph

    Thank you Jeff for this very good info today. My English is not really good and that’s my problem when i was with my husband for 3 months in Aussie. I cant understand him sometimes and it irritates him when i ask him to repeat it what he said said so i took a challenge to learn your language. Now im always watching English shows in Youtube.
    Anyway, thank you so much again. I will just contact you when we process my Spouse Visa.

  3. Robert

    As Julienne mentioned above with the not understanding sometimes I get that as my partner is in the same boat and sometimes struggles to find the word to use. Although she speaks english and it all sounds quite normal sometimes she will stop half way through saying something because she just gets stuck and can’t think of the word to express something in particular. I hope they do not put to much emphasis on english. I understand you should be able to speak english but you should not be expected to have perfect english. I personally don’t think you can call Australian english perfect anyways especially living in north Queensland we have a very laid back attitude and that shows in how we talk sometimes. But on a positive note… love the photo Jeff 🙂

  4. Mark Desreaux

    No wonder were branded a racist country, if gladly give up my Australian citizenship to become s Filipino, anytime, hypocritical commies…

  5. David McKelvie

    Still has to pass through parliament yet. Hence the lack of details, it is till just a though bubble they hope to get through. Time to lobby your local Federal MP/Senator I think.

    • Jeff Harvie

      Yes, good thinking David.

  6. Graham Jones

    I agree with your opening paragraphs, our current crop of politicians are woeful however there is a need for change and Australia is playing catch up with the rest of the world citizenship takes 5yrs in the U.S and 8 years in Germany. The citizenship test will hopefully address the issues of domestic violence , Female genial mutation and child marriage, It is in surely in a persons interest to be competent in speaking the English language I believe the proposed reforms are long overdue in regard to the unemployed of Australians many of whom are comfortable with their lifestyle of being unemployed some encouragement or penalties need to be applied to get them back in the workforce. Thanks Jeff for your many blogs which keeps us all updated with valuable information.

    Graham Jones.

  7. Mike Trotter

    Jeff, your comments on this topic are spot on. However, I suppose the “extra” years of waiting to be able to apply for citizenship will advantage some of older generation whom lack English reading and speaking giving them more time to learn, however for the younger people whom already have English proficiency will now have to wait longer before applying for citizenship. We now wait for the final draft in detail of these requirements to be released and hope that they may not be so draconian as they appear now. I certainly agree with your comments about politicians….!!

    • Kandy

      I’m an Australian citizen and I currently live in New Zealand I would like to no if I wanted to return home to Australia can I get financial assistance until I find employment and can I get financial assistance for my children

      • Jeff Harvie

        You will need to contact Centrelink about that, sorry. Not my area.


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