Saturday 22 July 2017

Irish in Oz urged to seek 'professional advice' as more visa changes announced

Tighter citizenship rules

Sydney Opera House
Sydney Opera House
Amy Molloy

Amy Molloy

Irish people living and working in Australia are being advised to get "professional advice" if applying for citizenship following the announcement of more visa changes.

Some of the changes which have been made to the citizen application process and eligibility criteria include:

  • Applicants must pass a stand-alone English test involving reading, writing, listening and speaking;
  • Required to live in Australia as a permanent resident for four years, not one (sponsorship years will no longer be counted);
  • More difficult questions that assess an applicant's understanding of - and commitment to - shared values and responsibilities of Australian; citizens to be included in citizenship test
  • Must show evidence of trying to integrate into the Australian community i.e. employment, membership of a local sports team and school enrolment

However, while the changes are making it more difficult to get citizenship, there will still be "lots of routes for Irish who want to live and work in Oz," according to Edwina Shanahan, Managing Director of VisaFirst.com.

"We are advising people not to panic but to be aware of the changes and to find out what exactly they might mean for them in particular," she said.

"Each person’s situation will be different, but in general these changes could make the pathway to citizenship longer. It is important that if you are considering going through the process or if you have a loved one who is about to embark on a citizenship application that you/they take good expert advice."

In 2014-2015, 3,092 Irish people were awarded Australian citizenship.

457 visa scrapped

It was also revealed this month by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that the popular 457 visa programme is to be cancelled.

Anyone who is currently travelling on a 457 visa and/or who has recently been granted one for future travel will not be affected.

Thousands of Irish workers will still be able to travel to Australia to work – as long as their occupation or profession is on the skills shortage list of which there are over 400 – the most frequently applied for occupations actually still remain on this list.

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