Australia to add 'values' test to citizenship exam


On 19 April, the prime minister said Australia would scrap a controversial four-year work visa - called 457 visa - for skilled migrant workers and replace it with two new visa programmes that would allow the best and brightest of foreigners to come into Australia.

The program has become mired in controversy with allegations the visa was being misused by employers to import workers on the cheap, not to fill genuine skill shortage.

According to reports, as of September 30, 2016, there were 95,757 workers in Australia on primary 457 visa programme.

"We'll no longer allow 457 visas to be passports to jobs that could and should go to Australians".

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The government had not decided exactly how it would assess "Australian values" in the citizenship test, saying it would consult with the public before it settled on the questions to be asked.

"It seems like a lot of change, but it's more of a cosmetic [rebranding] than anything else", said Henry Sherell, a research officer at the Development Policy Center of the Australian National University.

Malcolm Turnbull's citizenship crackdown, to be announced on Thursday, comes just two days after the prime minister outlined an overhaul of the 457 temporary foreign worker visa system.

Earlier this year Immigration Minister Peter Dutton also mentioned making changes to the citizenship test was a debate "worth having". The majority of the visa holders under this category were from India, accounting nearly a quarter of the intake. The visa programme is now used by nearly 100,000 foreign workers.

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Candidates for citizenship will be required to be permanent residents for four years against the current one-year period. Turnbull said they're doing people a favour with this new rule because would-be Australians who wish to be successful in Australia need to be competent in English.

In United States, President Donald Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order calling it "Buy American, Hire American", which directs officials to overhaul the popular H1-B visa programme designed for skilled immigrants to get a job in the US.

". we see this change as something that is evolutionary and a policy change on behalf of the Australian government", Nasscom said.

Two new visas will impose tougher English language tests and stricter labour market testing, and require at least two years of work experience and a mandatory police check.

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