Announcing sweeping changes to Australia’s citizenship laws, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday unveiled tighter requirements for new applicants, a move that follows the scrapping of the 457 visa programme for foreign workers.
Under the new reforms, the applicants must be permanent residents for at least four years -- three years longer than at present -- and must be committed to embrace “Australian values”.
Prospective citizens will have to pass an English test that will focus heavily on respect for women and children, with possible questions about child marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic violence.
The test will have questions assessing an applicant’s understanding of and commitment to shared Australian values and responsibilities, Turnbull said.
The number of times an applicant can fail the citizenship test has been restricted to three. At present the test has no such restriction. Apart from this, an automatic fail for applicants who cheat during the citizenship test has been introduced.
Unveiling the changes, Turnbull stressed that Australian citizenship was a “privilege” that should be “cherished”.