Introduction Citizenship has proven to be a fundamental mechanism in fostering integration and making people feel fully committed and connected to Australia. In the Bill Inquiry 2017 Submission 195 on strengthening the requirements for Australian Citizenship and other measures, “Applicants will be required to demonstrate a minimum of four years in Australia as a permanent resident immediately prior to applying for citizenship, with a maximum of 12 months outside of Australia in this time period” (Australian Government, 2017, pg. 9). Hence, this epitomizes change from the status quo that permits citizenship on time a temporary resident has spent in Australia towards a qualifying period of four years that only requires one to have spent a minimum of 12months as a permanent resident prior to their application. The change in question runs an indisputable risk of establishing an underclass of people whom citizenship is permanently out of reach. This will radically shape the face of multiculturalism in Australia and create an environment where significant numbers of people are thrust into extended situations of uncertainty and doubt. However, the proposed changes have been justified by Australia’s Government as ways to ensure Citizenship is valued and augment social cohesion (Australian 2017).
Will the newly proposed changes to the permanent residency requirements in Australia for citizenship work?
There is a risk that if Citizenship in Australia is too hard to attain, it will result in formation of a two-tie system of permanent residency.
Statement of the problem(s)
This proposal appears to accentuate that an individual’s Visa status is his/her determinant factors for social contribution and successful integration (Australian Government 2017). In the implementation of this Bill, the Government will be delaying the Citizenship process of permanent residents who initially came to Australia as international students and contributed for different public organizations such as temporary work Visa holders and Australian Defense Force. Whilst the Government’s intention is to ensure the Australian Citizenship is valued, contrastingly, the proposed change factually delays Citizenship to the people who value it most and want to contribute to Australia. Moreover, multitudes have expressed considerable frustrations about being denied the right to participate in democratic processes such as taking part in elections through the extension of permanent residency requirement to four years despite contributing, working, and paying taxes in the same country.
Additionally, a two-tire system comprising of those who failed to become citizens and those who are full citizens- though they are all permanent citizens –will develop. The proposed change is now the source of anxiety, fear, and confusion as thousands are left in Limbo over their futures with those receiving the hardest hits being refugees, those on humanitarian Visas and temporary work. About interests of stakeholders, concerns from citizens, temporary workers, international students, and humanitarian visa holders is that their efforts to make Australia home will be crowned with prolonged difficulties. Again, they will suffer detrimental impacts on their abilities to contribute, live, and work in a new society due to the extended separation from family.
Our pride as a community is mostly on the successful multicultural immigrant nation we live in. Thus, it is disturbing that we would seek to change the critical principles that have underpinned our current success of citizenship and inclusion without any seeming evidentiary grounds of doing so. Therefore, this specific change provides no particular benefit and holds far-reaching negative consequences across wide range communities. Thus, I oppose its implementation recommending that the Australian government seek to enhance the value of its citizenship through other proposed methods such as English language testing and rendering of citizenship to refugees.
- Australian Government. (2017, July 16). Strengthening the Test for Australian Citizenship.