On 14 September 2021, the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migration Services and Multicultural Affairs, the Hon Alex Hawke announced that the government would streamline pathways to Australian citizenship for certain talented permanent visa holders.
The relevant instrument giving effect to this announcement came into force on 11 October 2021, which represents a very limited broadening of those who may be eligible for reduced residency requirements to obtain citizenship.
What are ordinary “general residence” requirements?
Generally, it is a requirement for the grant of citizenship that the non-citizen has, at the time of their citizenship application, been present in Australia for at least:
- 3 of the preceding 4 years, lawfully; and
- 275 of the preceding 365 days as a permanent resident.
Where a person does not satisfy the general residence requirements, they may still be eligible for citizenship by satisfying “special residence” requirements.
What are special residence requirements?
Certain individuals may satisfy “special residence” requirements and qualify for reduced residency periods from that stated above. This includes persons who are:
- engaged in activities that are of benefit to Australia; and
- engaged in particular kinds of work requiring regular travel outside Australia.
What activities / particular kinds of work fall satisfy “special residence” requirements
The “specified activity” of benefit to Australia largely relates to individuals:
- which require a Negative Vetting 2 or higher security clearance in certain Commonwealth entities; or
- who are participating in an Australian team in the:
- Winter/Summer Olympics or Paralympics;
- Commonwealth Games;
- the Davis or Fed Cup; or
- certain cricket matches.
Effectively, the new instrument broadened the scope of this to include those who represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games (including qualifiers).
The types of “specified” work requiring regular travel outside Australia include individuals working:
- on duty as a crew member of a ship/aircraft, resources installation or a sea installation;
- as an employee of an S&P/ASX All Australian 200 listed company as CEO or an Executive Manager;
- on research and development of benefit to Australia done as a scientist who has been awarded a Doctor of Philosophy in their field of specialty and is employed by an Australian university;
- as a scientist employed by the CSIRO or a medical research institute that is a member of the Association of Australian Medical Research Institutes (AMRI); or
- a medical specialist of internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in their field of specialty who holds a relevant qualification and is a fellow of a certain organisation;
- certain primary Distinguished/Global Talent visa holders (discussed further below).
The new instrument broadened the scope of this to include some Distinguished / Global Talent visa holders.
How do Distinguished / Global Talent visa holders fit into this?
Amongst other specified work, the new instrument includes work in: academia and research, the arts, a profession, or a sport where the particular kind of work was done by a person who is (or has been) the primary holder of a Global Talent visa (or Distinguished Talent visa as it was previously known), and the visa was granted based on an internationally recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement in the same area.
This represents a broadening of the prior exemption, which was only for Distinguished Talent visa holders who were writers or engaged in the visual or performing arts.
This new exemption however excludes Distinguished / Global Talent visa holders who received an invitation from the Department to apply. Effectively, this means that the above special residence exemptions do not include individuals who obtained their Distinguished / Global Talent visa via the Global Talent Independent (GTI) program.
The new instrument has been introduced to broaden the scope of those who may satisfy special residence requirements to now be eligible for Australian Citizenship. This includes:
- individuals who participated in an Australian team for the Commonwealth Games;
- primary Distinguished/Global Talent visa holders (other than GTI program holders).
Please feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484 if you have further comments or queries or would like some guidance.