Face-to-face citizenship ceremonies to resume

People wanting to become Australian citizens can now make their pledge to the nation at an in-person ceremony, after the coronavirus forced all services online.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison gives citizenship certificates to Yunglong Fan and wife Yao Lee in January.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison gives citizenship certificates to Yunglong Fan and wife Yao Lee in January. Source: AAP

New citizens can now make their pledge to Australia in person with the resumption of face-to-face ceremonies.

The coronavirus had forced all citizenship ceremonies to be conducted online, but councils can now choose to conduct the services in-person, online, or both.

"The government is also working to resume citizenship testing and interviews in the coming weeks so we can have people moving through all stages of becoming Australian citizens," Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said on Monday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison with newly sworn Australian citizens earlier this year.
Source: AAP

Mr Tudge said the council meetings would be conducted in line with the public gathering requirements on crowd numbers in their state or territory.

He explained online ceremonies would continue for councils unable to host physical events safely to ensure "as many people as possible" can continue to become citizens. 

"The Department of Home Affairs will also continue to host online ceremonies for those who cannot attend an in-person ceremony," Mr Tudge said.

 

More than 25,000 people have attained citizenship via this method since the coronavirus restrictions came into effect, the majority from India, the United Kingdom, China and Pakistan. 

But the migration sector has voiced concern that the processing times for Australian citizenship applications have blown out, amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Home Affairs previously told SBS News the "increase" in overall processing times had arisen from face-to-face citizenship appointments, interviews and citizenship tests being placed on hold. 

The latest backlog figure is at more than 80,000 people awaiting citizenship. 

More than 179,000 people have been conferred Australian citizenship this financial year, up 56 per cent on the same period last year. 


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Published 8 June 2020 at 9:12am, updated 8 June 2020 at 10:11am