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The processing of Australian citizenship applications is picking up the pace with the government pumping in more resources at the back of a year that saw citizenship approvals plummet to a fifteen-year low.
Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, David Coleman said over 50,000 applications for Australian citizenship have been approved in the first five months of the current financial year, which on a pro-rated basis is significantly higher than the applications approved last year.
Last year, approvals of applications for Australian citizenship by conferral fell to a record low of 80,562- the lowest since 2002-03 when just over 79,000 people were conferred with the Australian citizenship.
Mr Coleman said in a statement that he expects this number to rise by 20,000 in the next two months.
"A vast majority of these conferrals will occur on Australia Day, which is by far the most popular day for people to attend a citizenship ceremony," Mr Coleman said.
Between July and November this year, more than 58,000 applications have been processed which, according to Mr Coleman, is nearly double of the number of applications processed during the same period last year.
The Department of Home Affairs has faced criticism over an increasing backlog and ballooning waiting time for processing of citizenship applications.
By the end of 2017-18, the Department of Home Affairs had nearly 245,000 citizenship applications that were awaiting an outcome and the current waiting time is 19-22 months.
The Department told SBS Punjabi in October this year that the reason for long processing times was concerns over “greater national security threats” coupled with an increasing number of “complex cases”.
Australian citizenship is a privilege and should be granted to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to contribute to an even better Australia- David Coleman
Mr Coleman said the Department is channelling more resources towards citizenship applications. He said a task force has been established to deal with complex citizenship cases and extra staff is being recruited and trained with an investment of $9 million to ensure citizenship applications are dealt with “as efficiently as possible”.
Following the Lindt Café siege, Australia has introduced what’s called additional integrity measures for the purpose of verifying the identity and good character of citizenship applicants.
The Immigration Minister said all applications will continue to be processed against a range of those measures introduced since 2015.
"Australian citizenship is a privilege and should be granted to those who support our values, respect our laws and want to contribute to an even better Australia," Mr Coleman said.