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Australian citizenship approvals up by 56 per cent but waiting period shoots up

Source: Photo - (AAP)/SBS 18 Jan 2018.

More than 15,000 have received their Australian citizenship via online ceremonies during the COVID-19 pandemic but hundreds of thousands hoping to become citizens will have to wait almost two years as tests and interviews have been put on hold.

The Australian government is holding online citizenship ceremonies to enable people to continue to become Australian citizens during the coronavirus crisis.


Highlights:

  • 170,819 people have been conferred Australian citizenship in 2019-20
  • 15,000 people have received citizenship online during the pandemic
  • 117,958 applicants still in the queue for citizenship

“The Government has moved to online citizenship ceremonies during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 750 online ceremonies are being conducted each day, and to 20 May 2020, more than 15,000 people have received citizenship this way during the pandemic,” a spokesperson from the Department of Home Affairs told SBS Hindi.

“In 2019-20 to 15 May 2020, 170,819 people have been conferred Australian citizenship. This is up 56 per cent on the same period last year,” the spokesperson said.

However, those who have applied for citizenship and are awaiting the outcome of their Australian citizenship application will have to wait longer.

The latest processing times released by the Department of Home Affairs indicates the waiting period for Australian citizenship has shot up.

Compared to waiting period of 16 months, from date of application to ceremony, in June 2019, the average waiting period for 75 per cent of applicants has shot up to 23 months from date of application to ceremony in April 2020.

Australian Citizenship PRocessing times April 2020
The latest processing times released by the Department of Home Affairs indicates the waiting period for Australian citizenship has shot up.
Department of Home Affairs

“Due to the health risks, all face-to-face citizenship appointments, such as interviews and citizenship tests, have been placed on hold. This has meant an increase in overall processing times,” the spokesperson said.

“The Department will recommence in-person interviews and citizenship tests when it is safe to do so.

“New applications for Australian citizenship are still able to be accepted during this period.

“Processing continues for applications that do not require a face-to-face appointment. Processing also continues for lodged applications up to the point where an appointment is required so that the applicant will be able to undertake an appointment when it is safe to do so.”

Last month, as COVID-19 pandemic forced citizenship ceremonies to move online, Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge said additional resources will be deployed once it is possible to resume tests and interviews.

‘Additional resources will be deployed to conduct testing and interviews as soon as social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 ease,’ he said.

As of April 30, 2020, 117,958* applicants were still awaiting the outcome of their citizenship application.

India top source of Australian citizenship

India has been the top source of Australian citizenship for the last two years, with over 28,000 Indian nationals becoming Australian citizens in 2018-19.

Source of Australian Citizenship 2018-19
Source of Australian Citizenship 2018-19
Department of Home Affairs

Indian-born applicants also top the list of visa recipients by country under Australia’s annual permanent immigration program.

*Australian citizenship by conferral

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits.

Testing for coronavirus is now widely available across Australia. If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

The federal government's coronavirus tracing app COVIDSafe is available for download from your phone's app store.

SBS is committed to informing Australia’s diverse communities about the latest COVID-19 developments. News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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