Following on from our recent article on changes to immigration laws, our immigration law expert, Registered Migration Agent, Natalie Viet has been keeping a close eye on developments in the immigration space.
It has been reported this week that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, with the support of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his government, are going to put legislation before Parliament to give the Immigration Minister stronger powers to override decisions made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. In particular, the changes will relate to the AAT’s powers to overturn decisions by Dutton’s office to reject citizenship applications and deport people.
Minister Dutton says that the current power that the AAT has, has the potential to undermine Australia’s national interest by ignoring the Immigration Department’s advice, and potentially putting the country at risk.
The Minister is arguing that the changes would allow him and his office to identify people with a criminal record and deny them citizenship accordingly, and deport rule-breakers where necessary.
If the laws are passed, people who are rejected in their application for citizenship or, for example deported, will still be able to appeal the decision to the Federal Court or the High Court of Australia.
Minister Dutton’s push for greater powers in this context comes from the view that the AAT is overturning decisions made by the government that are in the national interest. One recent example is a case where Iranian refugees reportedly travelled back to their former country for a holiday. The argument is, if they are genuine refugees why are they travelling back to the country from whence they fled?
It has been reported that the new legislation will also include extending permanent residency requirements from one year to four before people can apply for citizenship, imposing tougher English language requirements, introducing an Australian “values” test and requiring applicants to demonstrate how they have integrated into Australian society.
Immigration is at a crucial point in this country as we try to balance our rich multi-cultural history with the rise of political-populism and the desire of ordinary Australians to feel protected from the civil unrest that is prominent across so many parts of the world in the modern era.
If you need help with a visa, citizenship application or any other immigration issue, contact Natalie Viet from our office today.