Australian Citizenship Amendment (Refund of Fees) Regulations 2023

The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (the Citizenship Act) provides for the process of becoming an Australian citizen, the circumstances in which citizenship may cease, and other related matters.

Section 54 of the Citizenship Act provides that the Governor-General may make regulations prescribing matters required or permitted by the Citizenship Act to be prescribed, or necessary or convenient to be prescribed, for carrying out or giving effect to the Citizenship Act. Paragraph 46(1)(d) of the Citizenship Act provides that an application made under that Act must be accompanied by the fee prescribed by the regulations. 

The Australian Citizenship Amendment (Refund of Fees) Regulations 2023 (the Regulations) amends subsections 17(4) – 17(7) of the Australian Citizenship Regulation 2016 (the Citizenship Regulation) to include provision for the relevant refund amount to be calculated with reference to relevant items in Schedule 3 to the Regulation.

Where payment of a citizenship application fee included a credit card surcharge or Paypal surcharge, the Regulations also provide that the proportion of the refund of the surcharge is equal to the proportion that the refund amount is of the relevant fee specified in Schedule 3 to the Regulation.

The Regulations address consequential amendments that were not covered by the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Indexation of Citizenship Application Fees) Regulations 2023, which appliedtwo years’ indexation for 2021-22 and 2022-23 to certain Australian citizenship application fees from 1 July 2023 to more accurately reflect the cost of delivering the citizenship program. While increases to citizenship fees on 1 July 2023 were effected by way of amendments to Schedule 3 to the Citizenship Regulation, amendments were not made to section 17 to reflect a consequential change to provide, where applicable, for a refund of the proportion of the fee that represents the component of the fee that relates to the sitting of a citizenship test.

The Regulations provide for the calculation of refunds by determining the difference between relevant amounts set out in Schedule 3 to the Citizenship Regulation, instead of applying dollar figure amounts this ensures amendments to section 17 of the Citizenship Regulation are not required in the event of any future citizenship application fee increases.

The Regulations apply retrospectively in relation to a refund for a citizenship application made on or after 1 July 2023 to address an inadvertent oversight regarding consequential amendments that were not covered by the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Indexation of Citizenship Application Fees) Regulations 2023. This provision is entirely beneficial to citizenship applicants who are eligible for a refund of application fees in relation to an application made on or after 1 July 2023.  This accords with section 12 of the Legislation Act, which provides that if a legislative instrument commences retrospectively, it must not adversely affect the rights, or impose liabilities on a person

The amendments to the Citizenship Regulation relate to matters of detail and are therefore appropriate for inclusion in regulations.

Written by Ross Ahmadzai

6 Nov, 2023

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