Migrants face four-year wait to be Australian

Released on = November 9, 2006, 4:38 am

Press Release Author = John Bell

Industry = Government

Press Release Summary = MIGRANTS will have to wait at least four years before
becoming Australian citizens under a Federal Government proposal expected to be
announced today.

Press Release Body = MIGRANTS will have to wait at least four years before becoming
Australian citizens under a Federal Government proposal expected to be announced

They will have also have to take an English language test - and failure would stop
them becoming Australian citizens.

The measures are expected to be listed in a discussion paper to be released by
Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration Andrew Robb.

Prime Minister John Howard said yesterday the English language requirements feature
\"prominently\" in the package.

\"I am keen on everybody learning the English language as soon as possible,\" he said.
\"It is absolutely essential.\"

It is understood the proposals also include an increase in the waiting period for
people to become citizens from three years to four years.

The requirement was last year raised from two to three years in an attempt to
contain the home-grown terror threat. At that time, then citizenship minister John
Cobb said the longer migrants spent in Australian society before gaining
citizenship, the less vulnerable they were to \"falling in with extreme groups\".

He said the extra time would allow migrants to \"get a job, make mates and go to the

A government source yesterday told The Daily Telegraph there had been high-level
discussions about upping the eligibility requirements from three to four or even
five years.

He said there was likely to be public consultation but there would be a short
time-frame for people to voice their concerns.

Mr Robb has been working on the proposal since April, when he said knowing the date
of the Melbourne Cup was a cultural value that everyone hoping to become an
Australian citizen should know.

The English language component was flagged by the Prime Minister as he called on all
Muslims to learn English to better integrate into society.

\"Integrating means accepting Australian values, it means learning as rapidly as you
can the English language if you don\'t already speak it,\" Mr Howard said.

His comments won support from several prominent Muslim leaders and Foreign Minister
Alexander Downer.

Currently, all permanent skilled migrants must have vocational English, but there
are exemptions for areas of acute skills shortages and temporary migrants.

Skilled migrants - who make up about 70 per cent of all immigration - are all tested
before being granted a visa. The remaining 30 per cent, generally refugees, family
reunion or family members of skilled migrants, have no English requirement.

They are being offered taxpayer-funded English courses but only 62 per cent turned
up for classes in the past year.

Web Site = http://www.nationalvisas.com.au

Contact Details = National Visas
Web site: http://www.nationalvisas.com.au
Address: 3 - 118 Church Street
Hawthorn, Victoria
Australia 3122
Phone: +61 (0) 3 9697 4922
Fax: +61 (0) 3 9815 1544

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