Copying Europe? Integration as a Citizenship Requirement in Australia

Recent decades have seen a significant expansion of so-called “integration requirements” for citizenship applicants in many countries. Though led by European states, the trend now seems to be reaching traditional settler states such as Australia. This article examines the integration requirement proposed for citizenship applicants in Australia in 2017. According to the proposal, applicants for citizenship by conferral would have been required to show that they had “integrated into the Australian community,” for instance, through employment, involvement in community organisations, and the absence of conduct inconsistent with Australian values. Although the proposal failed, it is noteworthy because of its far-reaching nature and novelty in a traditional country of immigration. This article analyses the implications of the proposed legislation with reference to the diverse groups of permanent immigrants entering Australia, demonstrating its discriminatory potential in terms of gender, nationality, and visa category. It argues that the proposal failed because despite its significant implications, the government did not put forward a convincing case for its introduction and may even have initiated it as a symbolic gesture. The article contributes to understanding why integration requirements that are popular in some states and regions may fail to gain favor in others. It suggests that, given the rapid spread of restrictive immigration policies, scholars should pay more attention to the specific local conditions under which immigration and citizenship policy transfers succeed or fail.

Heli Askola, Copying Europe? Integration as a Citizenship Requirement in Australia, International Migration Review, 2020.