02 October 2007

New citizenship test no problem for Australian visa holders

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Australian immigration's new citizenship test started yesterday and the reaction from the first Australian visa holders to take the exam was positive.

Of the first batch to sit the multiple-choice test yesterday at Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) offices in Victoria and Queensland, all but one passed and 12 answered all the questions correctly.

People who have Australian visas do not have to become citizens but may choose to do so if they want to vote in federal elections or be eligible for some public sector jobs.

Candidates have 45 minutes to answer at least 12 of the 20 questions on Australia's history, traditions, geography and government, including three mandatory questions about Australian values.

The test is in English, reflecting the Australian immigration system's focus on people with language skills allowing them to adapt and contribute in their new life.

Immigration minister Kevin Andrews said it is designed to make sure new citizens have a basic knowledge of the language and understand the "privilege" of being Australian.

"The reason the government introduced the citizenship test was that we believe the great achievement of Australia has been to balance diversity and integration," he said.

The test has received some criticism, but one candidate told the Age newspaper that citizenship demonstrates his commitment to his new home and Australia's commitment to him.

Anyone applying for an Australian visa should begin by completing the Australian Visa Bureau's online Australian visa application to see if they meet the Australian visa requirements.

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