Australian citizenship residency requirement: Acceptance of temporary 500 visa subclasses
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The Honourable Prime Minister,
The Commonwealth Government of Australia.
The Honourable Minister,
Department of Immigration and Border Protection.
The New Australian Citizenship Requirements: A Petition for the Exemption of International Students and Research Scholars from the Residency Requirements
We write to express concerns over the recent pronouncements around changes to the Australia Citizenship conditions.
We represent a group of international students and research scholars that were attracted to contribute to the highly innovative culture of the Australian scientific environment. We are very grateful to the Commonwealth Government for the opportunity to develop great expertise in critical fields from leading Australian universities through the 500 visa subclasses.
While we agree that most changes to the citizenship conditions are necessary and reasonable (especially for new and intending migrants), we appeal that the temporary visas should not be generalised. We solicit that you consider the exclusion of research scholars and international students given our invaluable and continued contributions to the Australian society.
As you will imagine, the length and rigours of the academic endeavour that we undertake, affirms our societal integration through the exchange of enormous ideological and cultural capacity with the Australian society. This is achieved through our mentoring by seasoned Australian scientists, collaborations with supervisors, other academics, industry professionals, students etc. in Australia within and outside the University.
In this time, we have been acquainted with the Australian systems and values, lived with and interacted with Australian citizens. Our integration into Australia is further demonstrated by our respect for, and abiding by, Australian laws and regulations evidenced by the absence of any criminal records in the many years of residing in Australia.
We are aware that International study visas have been crucial to boosting the Australian economy by attracting high calibre intellectuals who then transit on to permanently residing in the country for the development of research, industry and the academic sectors via the skilled worker visa scheme. In addition, International scholars make Australia a destination because of the ease and clear transition from study to work to permanent residency and then citizenship. This process enables long term planning and settlement.
The proven value of international students is not only a testament in Australia, but all around the world. Canada for instance recently eased the process of skilled migration for international students and research scholars who trained in Canada. This is because they viewed international students as invaluable assets and one of the best categories of eventual citizens. In the words of John McCallum, the Canadian Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship “International students are the perfect candidates to become Canadian citizens”. We believe that the Australian Government is even better positioned to lead the world considering the calibre of international students that are attracted here and the excellent products churned out.
We kindly request for a consideration of international students’ study period to count as part of the residency period for citizenship. We appeal that the Australian Government (like other developed countries) considers and regards international students and research scholars as one of the best candidates for citizenship.
If considered, this will be in line with the proposed waiver being granted to CSIRO and other scientist in the announced changes. Regardless of holding a temporary student visa, it is logical to expect that international students are acquainted with Australian values and customs and are properly integrated into the society by virtue of their interactions with the professional, the academic and the generality of the Australia community.
Thus, we appeal that the four-year post permanent residency clause in the revised citizenship requirement be waived for international students and research scholars, who instead can meet the residency requirement by counting the time spent in Australia on study visas.
Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this all important issue and the anticipated objectivity with which our views will be considered.
Taiwo Odedairo B.Sc., M.Sc., PhD
Ubong Ntuk B.Sc., M.Sc., PhD
Luqman Atanda B.Sc., M.Sc., PhD
Itopa Ajayi DVM, M.Sc., MNIM, PhD
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