8 Jun 2018

3 reasons why citizenship processing times have blown out by months

The average wait time for Australian Citizenship government processing has stretched from 12 months in March 2016 to 16 months this financial year. Here’s three reasons why.

Growing number of applicants

According to Department of Home Affairs Officer, Luke Mansfield one factor driving the increased wait time is the sheer growth in the number of applications. Mr Mansfield told a Senate Committee, “The number of applications has been increasing year-on-year from a very significant base.”

As of April 30, there are almost 210,000 citizenship applications “on hand”. Mr Mansfield said there had been a 16 percent increase in processing staff since July 2016 to manage the growing demand.

Greater security measures

Mr Mansfield says there are a number of other factors affecting wait times for citizenship in addition to the growth in applications. He says, “One is that the Department has increased the integrity screening and checking processes from a national security and criminality risk perspective.”

As the Department focuses on undertaking more rigorous character assessments, more substantial levels of evidence are required, which can be more time consuming to assess. Registered Migration Agent from Immigracious, Sheila Woods believes the Department’s level of rigour around character assessments will continue to be a focus. She says, “The Government announced in April last year that the Australian Citizenship requirements would be changed to more thoroughly assess if an applicant’s conduct has been consistent with Australian values, such as social freedom and equality.”

Sheila added, “While we expect the citizenship requirements could be finalised by the Government as soon as June, it’s clear that character has already become a significant focus. If there is anything that might lead the Department to determine you have a character issue, we suggest that you seek migration advice. Anything from traffic infringements to offences committed when you were a minor could form part of the Department’s assessment.”

Sheila also clarified the extent to which character is assessed before citizenship is granted. She said, “People mistakenly believe that if they were granted permanent residence, they will be granted citizenship – but the Department considers citizenship to be a privilege, which once granted is difficult to revoke. The character requirements are far broader for a citizenship application than for a visa so matters which seem to be minor can contribute to the way the Department assesses a person’s overall patterns of behaviour.”

Statistics from the Department of Home Affairs show that during 2016-17, over half of the applicants who were refused Australian Citizenship were due to failing police checks, involvement in criminal organisations and failure to establish proof of identity.

The nature of incoming applications

Mr Mansfield said the nature of applications coming into the Department had also changed, with the increased need to establish proof of identity causing delays in some cases. He says, “There has been an increase in the number of applications from people who arrived some years ago without any form of identity documentation, and the processes around positively establishing identity obviously take quite some time to achieve.”

This includes people who migrated to Australia decades ago as a child and who may be applying for Citizenship to make it easier to travel internationally and become eligible for other benefits. Read our article on the benefits of becoming an Australian Citizen here.

Are you eligible for Australian Citizenship? 

Immigracious will keep you updated on factors affecting your Citizenship application, including the Government’s proposed changes. Citizenship legislation is being discussed in parliament this month and has been designated ‘priority status’ by the Department of Home Affairs.

We believe part of the growing interest in applying for Citizenship is also due to the upcoming changes to the eligibility requirements, which could soon render people ineligible. You can read about the proposed citizenship changes here.

If you are interested in applying for Australian Citizenship, we encourage you to apply without delay. The first step is to find out if you are eligible – if you have been an Australian permanent resident for at least 4 years, contact our migration agents on 08 6263 4406 or for a free eligibility assessment and find out how we can assist with your application.

Source: SBS News, SBS News and SBS News

Sheila Woods

Posted by: Sheila Woods

A very experienced migration agent, Sheila has always been fascinated by this field. Her university degree thesis was on Australia’s post-war immigration history (and it earned her first-class honours).

Filed in: Visas


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