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Australia to raise English language standard for citizenship

Australia plans to tighten its citizenship rules to require higher English language skills, longer residency and evidence of integration, such as a job.

Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said the new citizenship test would reflect Australian values instead of the current multiple-choice format.

"This will be good for the applicants, good for the nation, underlining our Australian values at the very heart of Australian citizenship," he said.

"This is not about administration. This is about allegiance and commitment to Australian values."

Budding Australian citizens will have to be competent English language speakers and have been permanent residents for at least four years.

Currently a permanent resident can become a citizen after one year.

Immigration minister Peter Dutton said there would be greater police checks on citizenship applicants and perpetrators of domestic violence should be disqualified.

Applicants would have to show the steps they had taken to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community.

Examples would include evidence of employment, membership of community organisations and school enrolment for all eligible children, a government statement said.

The public will be able to make submissions until June on how Australian values might be tested before the proposals are approved in parliament.

Activist group GetUp accused the conservative government of adopting the policies of the anti-Muslim minor political party One Nation through the new test.

"It accuses all immigrants of not adhering with some confected notion of Australian values," GetUp human rights director Shen Narayanasamy said.

"The announcement implicitly accuses people who want to live in Australia of being more likely to abuse their wife, not learn English, and engage in crime.

"It's deeply offensive to generations of people who have built their lives here."

Australia has long had high rates of immigration, with one in four Australians either born overseas or with at least one parent born in another country.



From Belfast Telegraph