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Australian citizenship: India emerges as the biggest source of new citizens in 2019-20

Source: SBS Hindi

New statistics revealed by the Department of Home Affairs state Indian migrants was the top source of Australian citizenship in 2019-20.

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge on Friday announced a record number of people had pledged their allegiance to Australia in 2019-20.


Highlights:

  • More than 200,000 people became Australian citizens in 2019-20
  • Indian migrants emerged as the top source of citizenship
  • The United Kingdom and China were the second and third top source

In the last financial year, 204,817 people were conferred Australian citizenship – a 60 per cent increase on the previous financial year and the highest number on record.

The top five nationalities were India at 38,209, the United Kingdom at 25,011,  China at 14,764, the Philippines at 12,838 and Pakistan at 8,821.

Top ten source of Australian citizenship
Department of Home Affairs

Victoria conferred the most citizens at 60,081, followed by NSW at 58,833, Queensland at 31,714, Western Australia at 30,394 and South Australia at 14,135. 

The 2019-20 figure is also more than double the number of approved citizens in 2018, which came in at 80,649. 

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said citizenship was an important part of Australia’s success as a socially cohesive, multicultural nation.

“Being an Australian citizen is an immense privilege, which brings both rights and responsibilities. I congratulate all those who have taken this important step,” Mr Tudge said. 

Harshal Desai with his wife and daughter became Australian citizens on Australia Day this year which saw more than 27,000 people become citizens – the largest ever number to make the pledge on 26 January.

He said it ‘felt good’ to be an Australian citizen.

“Feels good and looking forward to all the visa-free travel in the future and contributing further to the nation,” Mr Desai said.

The young Indian family were among thousands who were conferred Australian citizenship this year.

Harshal Desai, Siddhi Desai with their daughter Kayra
Harshal Desai, Siddhi Desai with their daughter Kayra
Supplied

Citizenship processing slows down due to COVID-19 pandemic

Despite a record number of citizenships granted during 2019-20, the queue for those awaiting an outcome of their citizenship application has shot up in the last quarter due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Sydney-based Abhijeet Sen is one among 138,219 applicants waiting to undertake the citizenship test and receive an interview invitation.

Almost 1,200 people have signed his petition calling for the government to gradually resume the procedures as coronavirus health concerns ease. 

“Most of the states now have allowed moderate gatherings in line with medical officer’s advice. Given that majority of states, barring Victoria has resumed near-normal life, resumption of test/interview will be a great relief to all the pending candidates,” Mr Sen told SBS Hindi.

Latest figures from the Department of Home Affairs reveal thousands are waiting in the queue for Australian citizenship.

As of June 30, 2020, 138,219* applicants were still awaiting the outcome of their citizenship application.

The average waiting period has shot up to 25 months from date of application to ceremony in June 2020.

Australian Citizenship
Department of Home Affairs

The government says the Department of Home Affairs is resuming citizenship interviews and testing in line with COVID-19 health advice. 

Small numbers of appointments for tests and interviews have begun in Perth and Sydney. 

Mr Tudge told SBS News the government wanted to expand this as soon as possible as restrictions ease across Australia.   

“We’re certainly keen to get the citizenship tests and those interviews back on track as quickly as possible - but obviously we have to do that in a safe way,” he said. 

“I’m hoping over the few months as restrictions ease in all states other than Victoria that we’ll be able to get back to normal as quickly as possible.”  

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

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. 

News and information is available in 63 languages at sbs.com.au/coronavirus 

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