The Australian Parliament passed the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Citizenship Testing) Bill 2007 on 12 September 2007. The new law requires those seeking Australian citizenship to take a test which includes a basic grasp of English and knowledge of Australian culture and history.
"It is important that Australian citizens understand the values that guide us and how our society works." said Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews.
"A citizenship test provides the means of ensuring that prospective citizens have such an understanding," he added.
The new test is expected to go into effect on 01 October 2007. Special arrangements will be made for those with low levels of literacy and other special needs.
The citizenship test is only required for current permanent residents seeking Australian naturalization. Those applying for permanent or provisional visas under family based immigration or through other routes such as the General Skilled Migration program are not required to take the test.
To be eligible for Australian citizenship, an Australian permanent resident must have been living in the country for a minimum of four years.
The test consists of 20 questions randomly chosen from a pool of 200. There is no limit to the amount of times a potential citizen can take the test before passing.
A draft resource booklet, entitled 'Becoming an Australian Citizen', was recently released by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) designed to help applicants for citizenship prepare for the test. The questions on the citizenship test will be drawn from this booklet.
The final form of the book will be widely available in printed, electronic and audio formats, according to DIAC.