On 18 October, the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 was discharged from the Senate as the government did not meet the deadline to bring the legislation on for debate.
This discharge means that the pending citizenship applications that were lodged on and after 20 April 2017, will not have to satisfy the four-year permanent residence requirement and demonstrate a competent level of English.
The processing of citizenship applications should now resume however processing times will exceed those estimated due to a large backlog of applications. In September, the Department estimated that 75% of application were being processed within 10 months, while 90% of applications were being processed within 14 months.
Though the Bill was discharged, the Department is proposing amendments to the legislation to be implemented for citizenship applications lodged on and after 1 July 2018, subject to the legislation being passed in the Senate. The amendments include reducing the English requirement from “competent” to a “modest” level. There is no indication yet on what changes will occur to the residence requirement.
Putt Legal encourages all permanent residents who meet the current residency requirements to lodge a citizenship application immediately.