In a speech “Address to the National Press Club – Keeping Australians together at a time of COVID”, delivered at the National Press Club of Australia on Friday, August 28, acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services, and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge has said that soon changes will be made in the Australian citizenship test. Further details are yet to be outlined.

As per the Minister, changes have been flagged and will be introduced so that there is a stronger focus on “Australian values” in the new Australian citizenship test.

The Minister is of the opinion that, ““Australian citizenship is both a privilege and a responsibility, and it should be granted to those who support our values, respect our laws, and want to contribute to Australia’s future”. The proposed changes, as per Minister Tudge, are for ensuring that “those who come here and those who want to settle here clearly understand – and are willing to commit to – the shared common values that unite us all as Australians”.

The citizenship test for Australia will be updated to include additional questions on Australian values.

The Australian Values Statement – signed by permanent as well as temporary migrants and citizenship applicants – is also to be updated by the Commonwealth, as stated by the Minister in his speech at the Press Club. The Statement is a confirmation that the individual applying for a visa for Australia will obey Australian laws and respect Australian values.

Significant changes are also to be made by the Australian government to the Adult Migrant English Program [AMEP] that provides a majority of migrants to Australia with 510 hours of free English language tuition. Along with lifting the cap on the available class hours, the time limits are also to be removed.

As per the Minister, the Government of Australia will lift the cap on class hours along with doing away with the time limits. From today, any permanent resident or citizen that does not yet have “functional English” or the basic English language skills for efficiently participating in the Australian society, will be able to attend classes free of charge until the time that they have acquired this language capability.

Migrants will now have more than the earlier allotted 510 hours of free English tuitions. With more flexibility and added opportunities, these AMEP changes will lead to more migrants being able to “access free English tuition, for longer, and until they reach a higher level of proficiency”.

In the previous year, a record 200,000 have been granted the citizenship of Australia. As on July 31, 2020, an estimated 150,171 applicants were awaiting the outcome of their Australian citizenship application.

While the current average waiting time for citizenship applications – from date of applying till the citizenship ceremony – have been impacted by the CIOVID-19 pandemic, waiting times are expected to be reduced by the end of 2020.

Over 70,000 have taken the citizenship of the country through online Australian citizenship ceremonies.