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Hundreds sign petition to restart Australian citizenship tests

گواهی‌نامه شهروندی آسترالیا Source: supplied

Hundreds have signed a petition calling on the government to restart tests and interviews for Australian citizenship.

Australian citizenship tests and interviews were put on hold due to COVID-19 outbreak while citizenship ceremonies were moved online. 

With most states easing restrictions and resuming business activities, those awaiting citizenship have signed a petition demanding tests and interviews be resumed. 


Highlights:

  • Petition calls for restarting Australian citizenship tests and interviews.
  • If not possible, to grant citizenship based on document verification like New Zealand.
  • 126,294 Australian permanent residents are in the queue for citizenship.

“Many people on Permanent Residency visa, who are eligible for citizenship, have lost their jobs in this difficult time. While it is not very urgent or essential service, had they received citizenship, they would have applied to Government jobs or went back to college with HECS and come out equipped with better skills to help the economy,” the change.org petition reads.

“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.”

Close to 400 people have signed the petition.

“My request to the government is simple. Driving tests have resumed. Other business activities have resumed. Barring Victoria, other states have eased restrictions. It is time the government resumes tests and interviews for those waiting for Australian citizenship,” Mr Abhijeet Sen, the petitioner told SBS Hindi.

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

As of May 31, 2020, 126,294* applicants were still awaiting the outcome of their citizenship application.

Due to the health risks posed by COVID-19 outbreak, all face-to-face citizenship appointments, such as interviews and citizenship tests, were put on hold. This has resulted in an increase in waitlist and an increase in overall processing times.

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 May 2020.

Australian Citizenship processing times
Australian Citizenship processing times (May 31, 2020)

Mr Sen is among thousands of applicants who are waiting for a test and interview invitation.

“We applied in February 2020 and in March, the tests and interviews were put on hold,” Mr Sen said.

He said it was possible to restart tests and interviews in a COVID-safe manner.

“If it helps, the department can ask candidates to wear mask and gloves (provided for by the candidates) while taking the computer test and during the document verification.

“Additionally, each computer be equipped with alcohol-based wipes using which candidate should clean the keyboard and monitor before and after the test. Furthermore, test centre capacity can be reduced by 50% to maintain proper social distancing. During the interview, a screen can be placed between candidate and officer, so as to minimise the risk of COVID transmission,” he said.

Abhijeet Sen
“My request to the government is simple. Driving tests, other business activities have resumed. It is time the government resumes tests and interviews."
Supplied

Tests recommence in Western Australia; will resume in other states when safe to do so

The Department of Home Affairs has advised processing continues on all applications for Australian citizenship that have already been lodged with the Department.

‘In-person citizenship interviews and citizenship tests have recommenced in Western Australia only from 6 July 2020,’ the Department said. 

‘Eligible individuals will be contacted and invited to attend a citizenship interview or test. There is no need to contact the Department about your citizenship interview or test.

‘We will gradually restart interviews and citizenship tests in other states and territories when it is safe to do so.’

*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. 

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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