Immigration

Migrants no longer in limbo as citizenship changes killed off by Senate

The government's controversial citizenship changes have suffered a major blow in the Senate despite a last-ditch bid by Peter Dutton.

The Turnbull government's controversial citizenship changes have suffered a major blow in the Senate despite a last-ditch bid by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton for crossbench support.

Thousands of migrants are no longer in limbo after plans to make it harder to become an Australian citizen were killed off in the Senate.

A spokesperson for Mr Dutton has confirmed to SBS News that migrants who have already put in applications for citizenship, and those who still plan to, will be assessed under current requirements rather than the tougher measures announced by the government earlier this year.

The changes included making permanent residents wait four years to apply instead of one, introducing university-level English language tests and giving extra powers to the immigration minister.

The revised start date for the changes would be from 1 July 2018 if the government can seal a deal to get them through parliament.

SBS News understands all applications received until then will be processed under the existing law.

A rarely used tactical move pulled by the Greens resulted in the legislation being struck from the Senate notice paper after the Coalition failed to meet a 7:20pm deadline to bring it on for debate in the upper house on Wednesday.

“There are many thousands of people whose lives have basically been put on hold by Peter Dutton and from today those people can move forward with their lives, make choices about their future and have confidence that their applications will be assessed under the current legislation,” Greens Senator Nick McKim told SBS News.

Mr Dutton tried to gain crossbench support by offering to water down some of the more controversial parts of the bill including the English language requirements.

Support from the Nick Xenophon Team voting bloc is crucial for the government if it is to pass the legislation but NXT has, so far, said it will not budge.

The government can re-introduce the citizenship bill but will need Senate support to do so.

A spokesperson for Mr Dutton said the government was committed to strengthening citizenship and negotiations would continue with the independent senators.

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