After visa curbs, Australia toughens citizenship laws - NEWS SENTRY

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Friday, 21 April 2017

After visa curbs, Australia toughens citizenship laws

Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull unveiled the new reforms. 
HIGHLIGHTS
  • Under the new reforms, applicants must be permanent residents for at least four years and must be committed to embrace “Australian values”
  • The changes will abolish the provision of unlimited attempts to pass the citizenship test, imposing a two-year denial if an applicant fails three attempts
MELBOURNE: Australia on Thursday announced tougher citizenship laws for new applicants, including higher English language skills and longer residency requirement, days after the governmentscrapped a popular visa programmeused mostly by Indians.

Under the new reforms unveiled by PM Malcolm Turnbull, 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". The changes will abolish the current system that allows unlimited attempts to pass the citizenship test, imposing a two-year denial if an applicant fails three attempts and an automatic fail for those who try to cheat the test.

Prospective citizens will now have to pass a standalone English test that will focus heavily on respect for women and children, with possible questions about child marriage, female genital mutilation and domestic violence.

He said citizenship would only be granted to those who support Australian values, respect the country's laws and "want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia". "Citizenship is at the heart of our national identity... We must ensure that our citizenship programme is conducted in our national interest," he added.

The move comes after Australia announced it would abolish the 457 work visa used by over 95,000 foreign workers -- a majority of them Indians -- to tackle unemployment in the country and replace it with a new programme requiring higher English-language proficiency and job skills.

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