What are the changes to the citizenship pathway for talented visa applicants?

On 14 September 2021, the Federal Government announced changes to streamline the pathway to citizenship for talented prospective Australians.

The changes provide increased flexibility to recognise the difficulties faced by distinguished applicants whose unique work and travel demands preclude them from meeting the eligibility requirements for Australian citizenship.

What were the arrangements prior to these changes?

Prior to these changes the special residence requirements were only extended to a limited cohort of people working in particular relevant occupations.

  • Those whose occupations require them to be away from Australia for a considerable period of time in fulfilment of their employment obligations or where it is in Australia’s national interest for them to be away.
  • These include sportspeople, maritime crew, senior businesspeople, research scientists and distinguished artists.

Other talented visa holders outside of the above list were required to meet standard general residence requirements. These include:

  • Having lived in Australia on a valid visa for the past four years
  • Having had an absence of no more than 12 months in that time
  • Or if absent from Australia for part of the 12 months immediately before lodging an application, the absence is not to have been more than 90 days.
  • Applicants are also required to have been a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.
  • Satisfying a range of character, values and language requirements.

What are the new eligibility criteria for talented visa holders?

The more flexible special residence requirements which now apply to the expanded to more visa holders are:

  • An applicant has a valid Australian visa for the past four years
  • Has lived in Australia for a minimum of 480 days during that time
  • The applicant must have been a permanent resident in Australia for 120 days in the year immediately prior to lodging their application.
  • Satisfying a range of character, values and language requirements.

Who is now eligible?

Essentially ALL distinguished talent visa holders AND athletes in the Australian Commonwealth Games team will now be eligible for the new special residence requirements.
So past and present visa holders can apply for Australian citizenship if they meet the new criteria.

In his announcement, Minister Hawke stressed that the existing character, values and language requirements would still apply “Australian citizenship is a rare privilege and it should not come easy. Those who apply must meet a range of character, values and language requirements. They must also have lived in Australia for a minimum period to be eligible”

Why is this change important?

Often talented visa holders’ unique travel demands for their work meant that they were unable to meet the strict residency requirements for Australian citizenship. This change has acknowledged these unique circumstances.

Do you need help?

If you would like further information on how we can help you or someone you know in relation to obtaining Australian citizenship, please feel free to contact us on +61 7 3166 9100.
Alternatively, you can send us an email, [email protected]

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