25 September 2006

Australian migrants to be fingerprinted

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Australia's new citizenship test could include the fingerprinting of candidates and cost applicants more than $100 according to reports coming from Australia News.com

The Federal Government is considering the measures, already in place in the US, as part of new citizenship requirements.

It is understood an application fee of up to $100 will be charged - apart from the cost of a textbook on Australian values.

The nation's tough citizenship test will be in place before the next federal election, Prime Minister John Howard said this week.

There will be no limits on the number of times a failed candidate can sit the test.

There will be exemptions for the aged and the very young, as well as the sick and disabled.

But it is understood the test will be rigorous because it had the serious purpose of teaching people that citizenship is a privilege, not a right.

The test will be held at electronic voting centres across Australia. It could consist of up to 35 questions, some with multiple choice answers.

Others will require written answers. There is also likely to be an English test.

The questions will change and be randomly chosen, with varying degrees of difficulty.

The aim will be to test for knowledge of how Australian democracy works, popular culture, including sport, and historical milestones.

Britain's citizenship test will be a template for the Australian citizenship test, along with those in the US and Canada.

In Canada, the cost of the test is $238. In Britain, the "Life in the UK" test costs $86. In the US the cost of their citizenship test is part of the $439 naturalisation fee.

In the US, all applicants under 75 need to be fingerprinted, according to the Australian Government's discussion paper on the test.

The test is being put together by Andrew Robb, parliamentary secretary to the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.

"A formal citizenship test should be a valuable part of that process ensuring that people are ready to fully participate in the Australian community," Mr Robb said.

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