Disadvantaged becoming citizens at higher rate

Date: Sep 28, 2012

The Department for Immigration and Citizenship has release its Australia Citizenship Test Snapshot 2011-2012,which found that the numbers of people attempting and passing the test who hail from 'vulnerable' backgrounds are increasing.

Minister for immigration and citizenship Chris Bowen said that the government has introduced pathways to citizenship for migrants through education.

Currently there is a humanitarian program where disadvantaged migrants are provided with education to help them on the path to citizenship. Over 90 per cent of those people passed the citizenship test in the past year.

"Becoming a citizen is an important step which shows commitment to our nation and its people.

"It is important that new Australians understand the pledge they make as new citizens: that Australia is a peaceful nation built on democratic beliefs, rights and liberties, and whose laws they will uphold," Mr Bowen said.

The latest statistics from the DIAC show that Australia has a higher citizenship intake than other countries in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OEDC).

A record number of over 70,000 people took up Australian citizenship in the year 2011-2012. That's a 20 per cent jump on the previous year's figure of nearly 60,000.

If you have any questions regarding citizenship, talk to an experienced immigration lawyer.

Humanitarian entrants to Australia, as well as refugees, are entitled to citizenship after four years, in the same way that normal applicants must wait that amount of time. A permanent protection visa will allow entrants to stay in Australia while they wait for those four years.

Previously, according to the Refugee Council of Australia, just under half of all humanitarian applicants passed the test. In 2009, only 1,016 passed of the 2,068 that attempted the test, far below the average pass rate of 76.5 per cent of regular applicants who attempted the test.

This method of special education for humanitarian entrants was introduced in the last few years with the success of the program seen in the 90 per cent pass rate.

The program was introduced in late 2009 to ensure that those who arrived under the umbrella of humanitarian and refugee, were equipped with the ability through information and skills training to not only adjust but to pass the test for Australian citizenship.

It comes as the Australian Bureau of Statistics has released statistics showing that migrants have contributed to the increase of Australia's population, more than its own people. 57 per cent of the 1.5 per cent increase in population, is due to migrants. 43 per cent is down to the number of births over deaths.