Importance of Citizenship Pledge – Wu and Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs (Citizenship) [2024] AATA 10 (9 January 2024)

On April 21, 2017, Ms. Jiayu Wu applied for Australian citizenship by conferral. On December 5, 2018, her application was approved under subsection 21(2) of the Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth). Subsequently, she was invited to a citizenship ceremony on January 26, 2019, but did not attend, and several rescheduled ceremonies from January 21, 2019, to May 24, 2021.

On July 7, 2021, the Department of Home Affairs informed Ms. Wu that her citizenship approval was under consideration for cancellation. She responded via email on July 27, 2021. On February 9, 2023, her citizenship approval was officially canceled under section 25 of the Citizenship Act. On March 6, 2023, Ms. Wu appealed to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (Tribunal) for a review of the decision.

ISSUE

The Tribunal is tasked with determining whether discretion should be exercised to cancel Ms. Wu’s citizenship approval under subsection 25(1) of the Citizenship Act. This is based on her failure to make a pledge of commitment within 12 months of receiving approval, and the reason for the failure not being one prescribed by regulations under subsection 25(3) of the Citizenship Act.

CONSIDERATION

The Tribunal, which convened in Brisbane on September 27, 2023, considered evidence and oral submissions. Ms. Wu, representing herself, and the Department, represented by Ms. Gabrielle Ho of Clayton Utz, participated via video conference. Written closing submissions were accepted from both parties.

APPLICANT’S BACKGROUND

Ms. Wu, who moved to Australia from China 17 years ago, currently resides in Queensland. She is employed as a property accountant and recently purchased her own property. She expressed a desire to bring her parents to Australia by the end of 2023. Ms. Wu clarified her decision to become an Australian citizen is significant for Chinese nationals due to the inability to hold dual citizenship.

The applicant successfully obtained a Resident Return Visa in July 2023, allowing her to travel freely.

REASONS FOR NON-ATTENDANCE

The Tribunal identified eight citizenship ceremonies Ms. Wu was invited to but did not attend between January 26, 2019, and May 24, 2021. Despite notifications from the Department, she failed to make a pledge of commitment within the stipulated timeframe.

The Tribunal noted the Department’s efforts to communicate the time limit for the pledge requirement through multiple letters and reminders. Despite being afforded opportunities to reschedule, Ms. Wu’s reasons for non-attendance were considered insufficient.

DECISION

The Tribunal, after considering the circumstances, decided to affirm the Department’s decision to cancel Ms. Wu’s citizenship approval under section 43(1)(a) of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act 1975 (Cth).

Written by Ross Ahmadzai

19 Jan, 2024

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