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Malcolm Turnbull is cracking down on the requirements around securing Australian citizenship, days after overhauling the temporary foreign worker visa system.
Davide Schiappapietra, Virginia Padovese

20 Apr 2017 - 7:22 AM  UPDATED 20 Apr 2017 - 12:36 PM

The Turnbull government is tightening the requirements for Australian citizenship, with applicants to face a stand-alone English test and asked to commit to embracing Australian values.

Applicants will also be required to have lived in Australia as a permanent resident for at least four years (up from one year) and will only be allowed to fail the citizenship test three times.

At present, there is no limit to the number of times a person can fail the test.

Malcolm Turnbull's citizenship crackdown, to be announced on Thursday, comes just two days after the prime minister outlined an overhaul of the 457 temporary foreign worker visa system.

"Membership of the Australian family is a privilege and should be afforded to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to work hard by integrating and contributing to an even better Australia," he said.

"We must ensure that our citizenship program is conducted in our national interest."

His government is also pursuing several other citizenship reforms, which will apply to all new applicants, including:

* Applicants must show the steps they have taken to integrate into and contribute to the Australian community (evidence of employment, membership of community organisations, school enrolment for all eligible children);

* The citizenship test will include "new and more meaningful questions" about an applicant's understanding of and commitment to Australia's shared values and responsibilities;

* Applicants who cheat during the citizenship test will automatically fail.

Any conduct inconsistent with Australian values will be considered as part of the citizenship process.

"Criminal activity including family violence or involvement in organised crime is thoroughly inconsistent with Australian values," Mr Turnbull said.

Prospective citizens with a permanent or enduring incapacity, as well as those aged under 16, would be exempted from the English reading, writing and listening test.

The prime minister said five million people had committed to becoming Australian citizens since 1949, helping to secure and enrich the nation.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said the country should not be embarrassed to say it wants great people to call Australia home.

"We want people who abide by our laws and our values, and we should expect nothing less," Mr Dutton said.