Citizenship reform is back and ready to be debated in Federal Parliament next month, with questions remaining over the difficulty of the citizenship test.
Citizenship Minister, Alan Tudge, visited Perth and met with Ian Goodenough, speaking to migrant residents about their concerns over citizenship.
Mr Goodenough said the citizenship amendment bill will require applicants to demonstrate competency in English and show commitment to Australian values and beliefs.
“It will certainly be more stringent. These requirements are designed to help people integrate more into society, to be able to speak the language, to be able to find employment and to be able to participate in the Australian democracy,” he said.
The current level that is proposed is level 5, pitched at a year 10 level, correlating to the minimum level of education in Australian before they can enter the workforce.
The Government is keen to ensure that new migrants have that minimum level of education and competency, so they are able to find employment and integrate into society.
Mr Goodenough believes the hardened test will not deter people from immigrating to Australia.
He said there is considerable demand for migration to Australia, despite only being able to admit about 200,000 people per annum.
Immigration Lawyer, Lily Chen, said an alternative program for migrants whereby they complete a course including English and lessons on Australian values and culture.
“If they want to genuinely be an Australian citizen they should learn, should know the Australian values,” she said.
Ms Chen believes an alternative to the Australian citizenship test would be a better way for migrants to assimilate into our society.
Citizenship tests exemptions will see refugees, people under 16 years and over 60 years, not required to partake.
“If you’re english is lower than functional, then it will be very hard to find employment. I think every migrant, unless under special medical reasons, should sit the test,” she explained.
For example: if refugees are exempt, and they don’t do any sort of Australian “education”, how are they going to assimilate and contribute to society.
The bill will also see changes to the permanent residency visa.
Previously, after living in Australia and applying for permanent residency, after one year as permanent resident you could apply for citizenship. However, that waiting period could now be extended to 4 years.
Ms Chen thinks this requirement is not fair for people who have already met english competency levels and are making economic contributions – like international students.
The recently reformed bill will be presented before the House of Representatives when Federal Parliament resumes next month.