Citizenship processing time decreases by 42%, results in 6-year low backlog

According to the official reports, the average processing time has been reduced to just seven months, addressing the substantial backlog.

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The Albanese Government says it has made significant strides in reducing citizenship processing times, achieving a remarkable 42% decrease and bringing the backlog to its lowest level in six years. According to the official reports, the average processing time has been reduced to just seven months, effectively addressing the substantial backlog inherited from the previous Coalition Government.

“Our Government is committed to cleaning up the backlog and reinstating a citizenship system that is fair, efficient and inclusive,” said Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles.

Under the former Liberal Government, applications for citizenship by conferral experienced extensive delays, with wait times exceeding two years. The current government attributes this prolonged waiting period to funding cuts within the Department of Home Affairs, severely impacting the system overseen by former Minister of Home Affairs Peter Dutton. As a result, as of 2019, an astounding 221,415 individuals were waiting for their citizenship applications to be processed, resulting in over 100,000 applications being abandoned altogether.

Minister Andrew Giles, highlighting the government’s commitment to rectifying the situation pertaining to the citizenship processing time, emphasized the need for a fair, efficient, and inclusive citizenship system. Minister Giles recently attended a citizenship ceremony at Knox City Council to commemorate this achievement, accompanied by Mary Doyle MP, the newly elected member for Aston.

Doyle expressed her delight in participating in such a significant event, which marked her first ceremony since assuming office. The ceremony brought together 250 new citizens, who eagerly embraced their newfound status as part of the Australian community.

“I was thrilled to attend my first citizenship ceremony as Member for Aston and to share in the excitement and pride of 250 new citizens,” said Doyle.

In January of the previous year, the Department of Home Affairs had a backlog of 144,847 applications for Australian citizenship by conferral. However, this number has steadily decreased since then, falling from a peak of 163,000 in September 2020. Notably, citizenship processing times experienced fluctuations during the course of the pandemic. For example, in August 2020, 90% of applications for Australian citizenship were decided within 28 months, marking a significant increase from the 21-month processing time at the beginning of that year.

However, there has been a positive trend in citizenship processing times since the start of 2021. By early 2021, 90% of applications were being decided within 17 months. Unfortunately, this figure increased to 24 months as of December 2021, indicating some challenges faced by the department.

The previous Liberal government had blamed factors influencing the citizenship processing times, including disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the promptness of applicants in responding to requests for additional information.

Processing the backlog of visa and citizenship applications was an urgent priority for the Albanese Government, and the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs directed the Department of Home Affairs to devote more staff to addressing the backlog.

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