Members of the defence forces are to have their applications for Australian Citizenship fast-tracked to just 90 days according to a press release from the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowden.
Under proposed changes to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, family members of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel will now be able to gain access to the same reduced residence requirement which currently applies to ADF members and their children aged under 16 years, enabling them to apply for Australian citizenship after 90 days of service.
‘The government recognises that families who support ADF members serving Australia should be able to enjoy all the benefits of Australian citizenship while their family members are settling into Australia,’ Mr Bowen said.
Mr Snowdon said the fast-tracked citizenship would be available to both current and future ADF overseas lateral recruits granted a specific visa on or after 1 July 2007.
‘This amendment will provide more equitable treatment and greater certainty for ADF lateral recruits and their families, so that all family members can become Australians at the same time,’ Mr Snowdon said.
‘This amendment will also assist Australia to attract personnel to highly specialist roles within the ADF.
‘I am pleased that the Opposition Spokesperson for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel, Stuart Robert MP, has demonstrated his support for improvements to the policy for ADF lateral recruits and their families.’
The government will introduce a comprehensive Bill to Parliament clarifying the eligibility for the defence service residence requirement this Parliamentary sitting week, following the submission of a private member’s bill by Mr Robert.
Currently, an ADF member and any children under 16 are provided with a concessional residence requirement that allows them to apply for Australian citizenship after 90 days of service in the permanent forces or six months in the reserve forces, whereas spouses and other family members – such as children aged over 16 years or elderly parents – do not receive the same concession and must wait for at least four years.
The amendment will specify that ‘relevant defence service’ includes required attendance of at least 90 paid service days in the Naval, Army or Air Force Reserves, instead of the current six month service requirement. Importantly, the government’s Bill ensures eligibility for citizenship for the family members in the event that the ADF member dies before becoming eligible.
The proposed amendment will also clarify that defence service refers only to appointed and enlisted personnel in the Australian Defence Force.
Source : Press Release