Citizenship policy should not discriminate policy stakeholders (onshore PR applicants)
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Citizenship policy should not discriminate policy stakeholders (onshore PR applicants) – A petition to Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and Minister of DIBP Peter Dutton to reinstate the citizenship policy under the Australian Immigration Law 2007
New citizenship policies was announced by the Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull on 20 April 2017 with new criteria. Prospective Australian citizens will need to have fluent English (equivalent to IELTS band 6), observe Australian values, and demonstrate social integration and contribution (job, tax payment, children schooling). And most importantly, they will need to have 4 years permanent residency instead of 4 years legally live in Australia and at least one year as permanent residents as stipulated by Australian Immigration Law 2007. Extension of 4 year permanent residency is supposed to allow a relevant time frame for the PR visa holders to integrate into Australian society, observe Australian values, develop English fluency, find jobs and hence contribute to national GDP before they are ready for citizenship.
How does the new policy of four years permanent residency not bring about any greater policy efficiency than the Australian Immigration Law 2007 but instead discriminate policy stakeholders?
Australian Immigration Law 2007 stipulates that before applying for citizenship a permanent resident should have lived in Australia on a valid Australian visa for four years immediately before applying and must have been a permanent resident for the 12 months immediately before making an application and not have been absent from Australia for more than one year in total, during the four year period, including no more than 90 days in the 12 months before applying. It means that offshore PR successful applicants, who got permanent residency before they depart to Australia, have to wait exactly 4 years since the date they arrive Australia as permanent residents to apply for citizenship. Then 4 years are a relevant time frame for them to establish social integration, develop their English fluency, find jobs and hence contribute to national GDP before they become ready for citizenship as supposed.
Australian Immigration Law 2007 allows onshore successful PR applicants, who already live in Australia for few years under working visas or student visas before they lodge their PR application onshore, only need one year of permanent residency immediately before they apply for citizenship and at least three years under other visas. The Law recognizes the fact that all the onshore PR successful applicants through the channel of skill-based immigration are international workers or international students who have been working or studying in Australia for few years before they apply for PR. For example, working visa 457 holders work 4 years under the time of this visa and if they are sponsored by their employers during visa time, they still need to work for another two years before they can apply for PR. Sponsorship is rarely given in their first working year as it takes a while for their employers to know whether they are worth for PR sponsorship and long term job commitment. In most cases, skilled workers under visa 457 got employers’ sponsorship in their third or fourth year of working. PhD students have to complete their research in four years (standard time frame for PhD course), get the PhD degree before they can apply for PR under visa 190 (State nomination) or visa 189 (skill independent). Bachelor, Master or PhD international graduates usually need to obtain Skilled - Graduate Temporary Visa Subclass 485 (2-4 years) and take Professional Year (1 year) before they are eligible for PR application under visa 189 or visa 190. Therefore the total time they live, study and work in Australia before they get PR is at least 4 years and may be longer, 6-8 years. During the time of 4-8 years before onshore PR applying, they already got to know Australian values, developed their English fluency, got jobs, contributed to national GDP through working (paying tax, contributing in production) and studying (paying tuition fee). Therefore, compared to offshore PR applicants, this group has already obtained the criteria set out by the policy of four years residence.
By this way Australian Immigration Law 2007 successfully recognize the difference in ability to socially integrate, find jobs, develop English fluency and contribute to national GDP between two groups of offshore and onshore PR applicants.
However, the new rule of 4 years of permanent residency before applying for citizenship is a step backward. It does not recognize the different groups of stakeholders that will be affected by the policy. While it makes no change to waiting time of offshore PR successful applicants who have not yet socially integrated, developed English fluency, got jobs and contributed to Australian GDP before they arrive, this new requirement extends the waiting time for onshore PR successful applicants, who have live in Australia for 4-8 years, obtained the criteria of social integration, English fluency, working and contributing to national GDP, and forces them to wait another 4 years before they can apply for citizenship.
Therefore in fact the new policy of four year permanent residence does not create any greater policy efficiency while discriminate the group of onshore successful PR applicants and put them under a policy inequality. The following policy questions should be deliberated:
Why the PRs that have already lived in Australia for 4-8 years need to wait longer than the new comers to apply for Australian citizenship?
Why the PRs that have already lived in Australia for 4-8 years need another 4 years so totally 8 years or 12 years to get to know Australian values while the new comers just need 4 years?
Why the PRs that have already lived in Australia for 4-8 years need another 4 years (so totally 8-12 years) to get English fluency that they have obtained before they could study and work here and further strengthened it during 4-8 years of working and studying before they became PRs while the new comers just need 4 years to do the same thing?
Do the skill workers who obtained employers' sponsorship to be PRs need another 4 years to get the jobs that they already have for 4 years?
We, the community of onshore successful and potential PR applicants see the need to raise our voice not only due to the fact that we are negatively and unequally affected by the new policy of four year permanent residence, but because we observe our responsibility as the Australian citizen-to-be in ensuring that Government’s policies are made in a way that protect Australian values, one of which is equality and no discrimination.
We therefore earnestly call on Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull and Minister of DIBP Peter Dutton to reinstate the citizenship policy under the Australian Immigration Law 2007 to ensure that the new citizenship policies does not discriminate any policy stakeholder group and bring about equality for everyone.
We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to you, the Australian Government, Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the whole nation for invaluable support and welcome us to this beautiful country, which is our adopted mother land.
In representation of onshore successful and potential PR applicants
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