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27 February 2007
New immigration legislation designed to strengthen Australian security passed the Senate on 25 February 2007. The House of Representatives passed the legislation in November.
New requirements include doubling the time period a migrant must reside in Australia from two to four years before being eligible for citizenship. Initially the period was to be three years; however it was increased from the legislation proposal.
Other changes include changing the age from 50 to 60 for those who are exempt from the mandatory English test and making it easier for those who had renounced their citizenship to regain it if they are of good "character."
The main purpose of the changes was for security reasons. In the new legislation, Australia's security and intelligence department can veto a person's immigration request of they are deemed to be a security risk to the State.
One interesting amendment added to the Senate version is to allow Australians to continue to hold dual citizenship as a basic right of being an Australian. The House version would force many Australians to give up their other citizenships, especially in such cases as running for public office for Federal Parliament positions.
The bill, the Australian Citizenship Bill of 2006, is being characterized as the most significant change to Australian immigration law in sixty years. Because of several amendments added in the Senate version, it will now go back to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
Related: Spotlight - Australia's struggle with multiculturalism