US President Donald Trump has pointed to Australia and New Zealand as shining examples of merit-based immigration while announcing a controversial proposal to overhaul America's immigration system.
Mr Trump said his plan includes a points system favouring "exceptional" students and workers from across the world rather than the current random green card lottery allowing "mostly low wage and low skilled" workers into the US.
To promote "integration, assimilation and national unity", potential immigrants will have to pass a civics exam.
Mr Trump said under the current system, only 12 per cent of legal immigrants to America are selected based on skill or merit.
"In countries like Canada, Australia and New Zealand and others, that number is closer to 60 and even 70 and 75 per cent in some cases," Mr Trump said in a speech at the White House on Thursday.
The new points system is slanted towards English-speaking "younger workers" and immigrants with "valuable skills", "offers of employment", "advanced education", are "financially self-sufficient" and have plans to create jobs in America.
"To promote integration, assimilation and national unity, future immigrants are required to learn and pass a civics exam prior to admission," Mr Trump said.
The president also plans to rename the green card to "Build America Visa".
"The White House plan makes no change to the number of green cards allocated each year, but instead of admitting people through random chance, we will establish simple universal criteria for admission to the United States," Mr Trump said.
"No matter where in the world you were born, no matter who your relatives are, if you want to become an American citizen it will be clear exactly what standard we ask you to achieve.
"It will be made crystal clear."
Mr Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner was one of the main authors of the proposal.
The plan has little chance of being approved by the Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives but Mr Trump made no secret of his desire to make the proposal an issue for next year's presidential and congressional elections.
"We will get it approved immediately after the election when we take back the House, keep the Senate and, of course, hold the presidency," Mr Trump said.
Australian Associated Press