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Indian migrants worried about the proposed changes to citizenship

Citizenship Test is one of many changes ushered in by the Australian government over the past few years Source: AAP

The proposed changes to citizenship laws could unfairly target new migrants, say some of the affected Indian-origin migrants.

Citizenship is becoming out-of-reach for migrants who already have the right to - and do - live permanently in Australia.

Here we share the experiences of three Indian migrants who claim that the proposed changes to Australian citizenship have affected their lives adversely.

“I feel distorted after these government announcements,” Mr Sharma tells SBS Punjabi. “I came to Australia on student visa. It was a bit of struggle to get PR [Permanent Residency]....and now they’ll make me wait for four more years before I’d apply the citizenship.”

“That’s not fair on new migrants who are looking forward to be Australian citizen. I wanted to apply for jobs in Government sector, which I feel like a lost opportunity now.”

"The governmental decision to increase the English competency is an absolute nightmare. IELTS score of 6 will be too difficult to achieve for many prospective applicants."

“I am not sure how the changes to citizenship law will help make this country safer.”

Jagdeep Singh came to Australia as an international student. He told SBS that he was eagerly waiting for his citizenship confirmation.

“I came here as an international student. At that time I secured 6 each in IELTS. Few years later, I secured 7 each, which was required for my PR application.”

“Now they will ask me to sit again for IELTS testing,” adds Mr Singh. “Why this English competency is forced on us? How many times I will need to prove my English. Do they think my level of English has gone down after studying and staying in Australia?”

Harjit Singh told SBS Punjabi that he was surprised to know about the proposed changes to citizenship laws.

“I missed this opportunity to be an Australian citizenship just by three months,” says Mr Singh. “The changes will severely affect my life. I was waiting to be an Australian citizen for a while.”

“I wanted to apply for jobs in government sector. There are many jobs in defence, navy and police which are only available to Australian citizens.”

“If changes are approved, I will need to wait for four more years and will need to sit in IELTS test again.” 

According to government’s proposed changes to the citizenship legislation, the applicant will need to go through a stricter English language test with residency requirement increased to four years before one can be eligible for Australian citizenship.

A statement from Mr Dutton’s office said the reforms would apply to all new applications received on or after 20th April, 2017.

Labor party has decided to vote against the proposed citizenship law in its current form.

Labor's opposition to the bill means the coalition will have to seek 10 crossbench votes to pass it through the Senate. The Greens have already labelled it xenophobic and unfair. 

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