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An 18-month investigation by the Commonwealth Ombudsman, released in December, found the number of people subject to heightened identity checks and waiting more than two years on the outcome of a “citizenship by conferral” application - such as former refugees - had skyrocketed 450 per cent.
This increase - a jump from 338 cases requiring enhanced screening in November 2016 to almost 2000 by the middle of last year - was despite an overall drop in the number of complex applications awaiting a decision, the ombudsman found.
Citizenship by conferral is a stream open to permanent residents who satisfy a range of criteria, pass a citizenship test and take part in a citizenship ceremony.
As of early January, there were 167,820 outstanding conferral applications, 5680 of which were more than two years old.
The ombudsman's investigation focused on those subject to "enhanced screening and integrity checks" due to background factors such as country of origin, an "irregular" arrival or due to any changes made to personal information.