« ADF family members get fast track to citizenship »

It has been announced that family members of Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel will be able to take advantage of an advanced route to citizenship from July. The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen, announced the changes on 22 May 2012 in conjunction with the Minister for Defence, Science and Personnel, Warren Snowden.

The changes will allow family members of ADF personnel to apply for citizenship after 90 days of service with effect from July 1 2012. Under the current rules only ADF members and their children aged under 16 years can apply for citizenship after 90 days of service in the permanent forces or six months in the reserve forces whilst other family members have to wait four years.

The amendment to the Immigration Rules 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. 

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.

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.

Mr Bowen said of the changes, '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'.

'The new requirement provides for a more consistent approach, and will apply to partners and other family members who have migrated with an ADF member, including children aged over 16 years and dependent elderly parents who previously had to wait four years to apply for citizenship.

'The amendment will help these families access employment opportunities and education assistance, as well as aid them in building a close and continuing relationship to Australia.'

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