Immigration officers Ralph Harwood and Michael White (rear left and right) with Bkupinder Singh, of Dunoon, his wife Parmjit Kaur and their niece Jatinder Kaur.
Immigration officers Ralph Harwood and Michael White (rear left and right) with Bkupinder Singh, of Dunoon, his wife Parmjit Kaur and their niece Jatinder Kaur. Jay Cronan

Immigration team brings teaching tips

FOR Dunoon residents Bkupinder Singh and his wife Parmjit Kaur, yesterday’s visit to Lismore by the Federal Department of Immigration and Citizenship helped answer questions that would have been difficult to settle online or over the phone.

The Indian-born couple has lived on the Northern Rivers for more than 20 years, and Mr Singh has well-known family all over the district. But for these two Australian citizens yesterday’s visit had more to do with information on higher education for their niece, Jatinder Kaur.

While the Northern Rivers is quite multicultural for a country region, the vast majority of residents are Australian-born.

Figures for the Page electorate identify residents born in 32 different countries. But out of 130,000 people, only 112 were born in India.

The majority of first-generation Australians in our district were born in the UK (3772), followed by New Zealand (1429), Germany (434), Italy (344), Philippines (295), US (267), South Africa (201), PNG (149), Canada (145), China (145) and Ireland (107).

According to visiting liaison officer with the department, Ralph Harwood, the regional tour dealt mainly with people looking to formalise their citizenship in Australia, with many already living here for several decades.

He said British emigrants who came prior to 1984 were listed on the electoral role and could vote, so felt in every way just like an Australian citizen; except that they carried a UK passport.

“The majority of my clients are already living in the community or wish to get a family member here to join them,” Harwood said.

“While the department provides a great deal of information over the phone or on the internet, some people may not be aware of recent policy changes or they may prefer to speak to officers face-to-face, and these trips are about meeting that need.

“We try to point people in the right direction.”

DO YOU KNOW AN IMMIGRANT?

Phone 6624 3266 or SMS 0428 264 948



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