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Immigration to Australia

This section of our web site offers information on Australia Permanent Residence visa programs and Australia Temporary Residence visas, Australian immigration law and regulations, DIMIA immigration news, Australia job links and employment resources. The aim of this web page is to provide potential immigrants to Australia with detailed and complete immigration information, free instant Australia immigration point test, Australia immigration assessment and general knowledge on the benefits, which Australia offers to its residents. Australia immigration resources include information on the Australia General Skilled Immigration Visa, Australia Work Visa, Australia Family Visa, Australia Business Visa and Australia Student Visa.

The Department of Immigration was originally created in 1945 and over the years had a number of name changes to include Local Government, Ethnic Affairs and Multicultural Affairs. There was also a Department of Aboriginal Affairs from 1972 until 1990 (when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission was established) and a Department of Reconciliation and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs during 2001.

On 26 November 2001 the new Coalition Government announced the combination of the two previous Departments as the Department for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA).

The Migration Act 1958 and the Migration Regulations set out in detail the immigration laws which the Minister administers. The Migration Act can be amended only if the changes are passed by both Houses of Parliament.

The Migration Regulations, which set out the detailed requirements for the grant of visas, can be amended by the Governor General, on the recommendation of the Minister, without the prior approval of Federal Parliament. However, the changes have to be tabled in the Parliament and can be rejected by either House.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission Act 1989 establishes most of the Indigenous statutory agencies in the portfolio, sets out the electoral arrangements for ATSIC and the TSRA, and specifies the Minister's powers in relation to ATSIC. The Aboriginal Councils and Associations Act 1976 establishes the statutory office of the Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations, establishes an incorporation regime for Aboriginal corporations, and provides for investigations into and the appointment of administrators to Aboriginal corporations.

Other legislation administered by the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs includes the Australian Citizenship Act 1948, the Immigration Guardianship of Children Act 1946 and the Immigration (Education) Act 1971, the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, the Native Title Act 1993, (Division 6 of Part 2 and Part 11 only), and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Act 1989.

The main Australia immigration program is made up of:

- A skill immigration stream, which has a number of categories for people who have particular occupation skills, outstanding talents or business skills;

- A family immigration stream, where people can be sponsored by a relative who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident;

- Special eligibility migrants, who are former citizens or residents wanting to return to Australia, or certain New Zealanders.

The immigration program for 2003-04 has 100,000 to 110,000 places available for migrants, plus a parent contingency reserve of 6,500 places for a full year.

Australia Country Information

Australia is the smallest continent, but combines a wide variety of landscapes. These include deserts in its interior, hills and mountains, tropical rainforests, and heavily populated coastal strips with long beaches and coral reefs off the shoreline.

Most potential immigrants harbour a particular image of Australia, such as the Opera House or blood-red Uluru (Ayers Rock). Yet these famous icons do scant justice to the richness of Australia's natural treasures and its cultural diversity. Australia offers a wealth of travel experiences, from the vastness and drama of the outback, to the spectacle of the Great Barrier Reef and its islands, the cosmopolitanism of Sydney and arguably some of the best beaches in the world. Visitors expecting to see an opera in Sydney one night and meet Crocodile Dundee the next will have to re-think their grasp of geography in this huge country. It is this sheer vastness, and the friction between the ancient land steeped in Aboriginal lore and the New World cultures being heaped upon it, which gives Australia much of its character.

Modern-day Australia is made up of six states and two territories: New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and the Australian Capital Territory, where the capital city of Canberra is located. The government of the country is democratic, led by the governor-general. The Queen of England holds symbolic executive power. Because of this close cultural tie to Great Britain, Australia has been involved in many events along with England, including both world wars. Presently, the country enjoys healthy relations with Japan, many nations of Southeast Asia and Europe, the United States, and neighboring New Zealand.

Since Europeans first came to Australia, in 1788, immigration has been essential to the country's development. The world's smallest continent and the sixth-largest country, Australia has a culture similar to that of the United States. Most Australians live in the temperate southern and eastern parts of the continent; much of the rest is semi-arid to arid. Most Australians are Caucasian, with Asians and Aboriginal people making up the majority of the rest of the population. Sydney is Australia's largest city, home to one fifth of the country's 19.2 million people, but Canberra is the capital.

Today, Australia is a culturally diverse nation. After World War II, immigrants from Greece, Turkey, and Italy poured into the country. Later waves of immigrants followed from Asia in the early 1970s. Though many Australians are of British and Irish ancestry, by 1988 almost 4 percent of the entire population was of Asian descent. There are still approximately 230,000 Aborigines in Australia today. The diversity of the population leads to a unique fusion of different interests that make up Australian culture. Art, music, and education are important to Australians, and sports such as cricket, rugby, football, and yachting are popular pastimes for many.

The focus of Australia's foreign policy has shifted in the past 20 years or so from Europe and the US to its near-neighbors. It has acted as a broker between warring groups in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.

Australia's economy is also geared to Asia. It is a foremost member of Apec, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Its three top export partners are Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. The Australian economy enjoyed its ninth consecutive year of growth in 2000, recording a 1.6 percent annual increase in its GDP. A strong domestic demand helped the country survive the Asian economic downturn, although certain sectors, such as mining, were shaken and are slow to recover. An even better inflationary outlook accompanies this economic growth scenario, but prospects for the unemployed are uncertain, with unemployment rates lingering around the 8 percent mark. Both price and wage inflation are currently well within (or below) official targets, despite the loosening of monetary policy in 1996. Recently, there was an increase of 17,900 job vacancies in Australia, with Victoria and Queensland in particular seeing job growth making these areas a popular destination for immigrating foreigners to being their job searches before moving to the country. Only Western Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory recorded decreases.

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