Australian citizenship for families of defence forcesWe announced back in May that there may be changes afoot to the Australian Citizenship Act which would enable Australian Defence Families to have their Citizenship fast-tracked

Yesterday it was confirmed that from January 2013, family members of current and future lateral recruits to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will be eligible for conferral of Australian citizenship at the same time as the lateral recruit.

The Australian Federal Government’s amendments to the 2007 Australian Citizenship Act allow for fast-tracking of Australian citizenship for certain family members of overseas lateral recruits to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

In order to qualify, the overseas lateral recruit must be granted a certain visa after 1 July 2007 and undertake 90 days service in either the permanent or reserve forces of the Army, Navy or Air Force.

Chris Bowen, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship said

“The government recognises that families who support ADF members serving Australia should be able to build a close and continuing relationship with Australia at the same time as their serving family members. We are providing families with earlier eligibility for citizenship to assist them with settling in Australia, including providing access to employment opportunities and educational assistance. Importantly, the amendments also ensure eligibility for citizenship for the family members in the event that the ADF member dies before becoming eligible”

The amendments also clarify that defence service refers only to appointed and enlisted personnel in the Australian Defence Force.

Warren Snowdon, the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel commented

”These amendments will assist Australia to attract personnel to highly specialised roles within the ADF as they will provide tangible benefits to lateral recruits’ migrating families. ‘Over the past five years the ADF has recruited over 500 members from overseas. Fast-tracking citizenship for their families will ease some of the stress associated with such a significant move.’

Family members of overseas lateral recruits who were granted the same visa on or after 1 July 2007 can take advantage of these amendments when they come into effect on 1 January 2013.

Exemption for Australian Defence Forces Personnel from the Australian Residency Requirements:

From 1 January 2013, you will be exempt from the residence requirement if you:

  • were appointed, enlisted or transferred into any of the permanent forces or reserves of the Commonwealth of Australia, and
  • have served 90 days in the permanent forces, or
  • have served a total of 90 paid service days in the navy, army or air force reserve, or
  • were discharged from defence service as medically unfit for service as a result of that service.

Your family members will be exempt from the residence requirement if:

You were granted one of the following visas on or after 1 July 2007:

  • Labour Agreement (Migrant) Class AU
  • Labour Agreement (Residence) Class BV
  • Employer Nomination (Permanent) Class EN
  • Regional Employer Nomination (Permanent) Class RN

and

  • your family members were granted a visa of the same type as you on the basis that they were ‘Members of the Family Unit’ and were included as applicants in your visa application

and

  • your service in the permanent or reserve forces satisfies one or more of the service conditions listed above, or you die while undertaking that service.

Your family members will not be exempt from the residence requirement if:

  • you were granted one of the visas listed above and your family members subsequently came to Australia on a visa that is not listed above, or
  • you migrate to Australia for another purpose and subsequently decide to join the permanent forces or the reserves, or
  • you acquired Australian citizenship automatically (for example, because you were born in Australia) or are an Australian citizen by registration.