Expatica news

Former Australians gain citizenship rights

9 July 2004

AMSTERDAM − Australian expat lobby group the Southern Cross Group (SCG) has welcomed reforms to Australian citizenship law allowing thousands of former Australians who live overseas to regain their passports.

The reforms − announced by the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Gary Hardgrave, on 7 July − apply to those people who automatically forfeited their Australian citizenship when they acquired another citizenship before 4 April 2002.

It was on that date when a section of law was repealed making it possible for Australians to acquire the citizenship of their country of residence without being stripped of their Australian nationality.

“But that hard-won amendment did not help those who forfeited their much-prized Australian citizenship prior to 4 April 2002 and remained abroad,” SCG co-founder Ann MacGregor said from Brussels.

She said the current resumption provision requires former citizens who lost their citizenship − under the now repealed Section 17 of Australian citizenship law − who are still overseas to declare an intention to return to reside in Australia within three years if they want their Australian citizenship back.

But that requirement prevents many Australian expats − who do not know when they might return or who cannot return to Australia due to family or other commitments overseas − from regaining Australian citizenship, the SCG said.

The requirement demanding their intention to return within three years will now be dropped from the criteria for citizenship resumption. Instead, when the law comes into force, former Australians will simply have to show that they are of good character.

In announcing several other amendments to citizenship law, the SCG said although the government has signalled its intention, the reforms are not yet legislated. They are not expected to come into law until after the coming federal election, delaying their passing through Parliament until 2005.

[Copyright Expatica News 2004]

Subject: Dutch news