Australia on Monday announced it will hold online citizenship ceremonies to enable people to continue to become Australian citizens during the coronavirus crisis.
This announcement comes after thousands signed a petition requesting the government to issue citizenship online to approved applicants.
- There are currently 85,000 people awaiting a ceremony.
- Citizenship interview and test put on hold.
- Approved applicants jubilant at the new announcement.
‘Current health advice around COVID-19 means it is not possible for traditional, in-person citizenship ceremonies to be held,’ Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge said in a statement.
‘Australian citizenship is an immense privilege, and fundamental to our national identity.
‘The Government will hold online citizenship ceremonies via secure video link, to enable people to continue to become Australian citizens during the coronavirus crisis,’ the Minister announced.
The Department of Home Affairs has commenced trialling one-on-one ceremonies for those already approved for Australian citizenship.
‘We will work with individuals with an urgent need, who cannot access the internet, to ensure their ceremony can occur safely in line with health advice.
‘When fully implemented, it is expected this new capability will see up to 750 people per day having their citizenship conferred.
There are currently 85,000 people awaiting a ceremony.
People who were scheduled to attend a Citizenship appointment or ceremony over the coming months will be contacted to make alternative arrangements.
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Approved applicants welcome the announcement
Suman Verma* who passed the test and was approved the same day is ‘glad’ with government’s prompt response to their appeal.
She is among thousands who signed an online appeal requesting the government to conduct the citizenship ceremony online.
“I am very happy. It is great the government made it a priority and addressed it. I am glad the citizenship ceremony will be held online and we won’t have to wait long,” she told SBS Hindi.
Interviews and citizenship test on hold
While citizenship ceremony is being replaced by an online ceremony, those still awaiting an interview and test will have to wait longer.
‘Applications for Australian citizenship are still able to be accepted during this period, though citizenship interviews and testing have been put on hold.
‘Additional resources will be deployed to conduct testing and interviews as soon as social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 ease,’ the Minister said.
In 2019-20, more than 157,000 people have been conferred Australia citizenship, up 70% on the same period in 2018-19.
*Name changed at person's request.
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If you believe you may have contracted the virus, call your doctor, don’t visit, or contact the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.
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