26 January 2009

Record citizenship ceremony proves Australian immigration successful

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At today's Australia Day celebrations, 26th January 2009, Australians will be celebrating all that it means to be – and become – an 'Aussie'.

Today, on the 60th anniversary of Australian citizenship ceremonies, 13,000 Australian immigrants became lawful citizens of Australia.

Over 300 citizenship ceremonies were held around the country, with Perth hosting the largest group at a record 1,881 people sworn into citizenship.  Immigration and Citizenship Minister Chris Evans attended the ceremony, saying they were joining "four million others who have done it before you," reports the Sydney Morning Herald. 

The ceremony was the second-largest citizenship ceremony in Australia's history, and Senator Evans says it is all thanks to the achievements of the Australian immigration system.

"We are a great success story," Senator Evans added.

"You go anywhere in the world and they say no-one has done it better than Australia at settling and promoting the success of its migrants."

Being a multicultural nation, celebrations for Australians at Hyde Park included munching on Aussie beef burgers and snags (sausages), Turkish gozleme, Spanish paella, and Thai curries.

In Canberra, Leo Sayer, a British-born musician who became an Australian citizen today, said becoming an Australian citizen is better than getting a number-one hit, while in Adelaide, men from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association shouted "Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi", and Samoan women wearing traditional Samoan dress danced to the beat of a drum.  In Melbourne, Chinese dragons accompanied the People's March that used the theme "We are one, but we are many" as their focus.  Perth will have the final celebrations in Australia, topped off with fireworks and a partial solar eclipse.

Over 90 countries were represented around Australia at the citizenship ceremonies, and Senator Evans reminded listeners at the ceremony it is an excellent opportunity to celebrate multiculturalism and to thank those who move to Australia for their contributions to Australian society. 

"It's a great day to think about what Australia means to you and what we can do to make Australia the great place it is…We have refugees and business migrants building Australia ... and tasting its success."

When a permanent resident of Australia has been lawfully resident for four years or longer, they may be eligible to become an Australian citizen.  They must have remained in Australia for the twelve months prior to application as a permanent resident, and had no periods outside of Australia for longer than 12 months during those four years, including no absences of three months or more in the 12 months prior to application. 

If the applicant has been confined in prison or a psychiatric institution for any period during their time of residence, they may not meet the residence requirements.  Some residents may be exempt from the residence requirements as determined by the government, such as those who serve in the Australian army, navy or air force.  The Government provides a Residence Requirements Calculator to help determine eligibility for Australian citizenship. 

Applicants must also prove that they are of good character. 

The government will be holding events throughout the year to celebrate Australian citizenship.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with emigrating to Australia.

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