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Processing of Australian citizenship application starts again

November 2017, 04
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Immigration department in Australia has begun processing of citizenship applications to clear a backlog of the last six months. These will be assessed considering the prevalent eligibility criteria.

The Australian Senate had blocked to the revamping of the citizenship eligibility criteria, and so the Department of Immigration and Border Protection has taken the steps to resume processing applications which were submitted after 20th April 2017. Working through such a backlog of applications consumes time, and the processing time is expected to be very long.

Background of eligibility criteria

An announcement was made by the Australian Government On the 20th April 2017 to introduce tougher criteria to acquire its citizenship. These new requirements were to be applied to all applications submitted from 20 April 2017 onwards. Under it, PRs of Australia had to wait for four years a minimum of before attaining eligibility to submit an application. A higher level of English ability was also expected of them. The authorities had waited for the proposed changes to turn into a law, and the processing of all applications submitted on or after 20th April 2017 was put off. On 18th October 2017, the Australian Government proposed some amendments and removed the retrospective nature of the legislation as well as the tough English tests.

These amendments were rejected by the opposition and the legislation was not put for voting in the Senate. The Government proposes to present the legislation again.  These proposed changes have improved the chance of success in being passed by the Parliament. If it happens only those applications which are submitted on or after 1st July 2018 are going to be assessed by using the new criteria. DIBP has given a confirmation that applications for Australian citizenship submitted between 20 April 2017 and 30 June 2018, will be assessed using the present eligibility criteria and the process has been resumed.

Delay expected

Because there was no processing of applications during the last six months, the DIBP will tackle a large backlog. It is now receiving many new applications subsequent to the announcement that no new criteria would be applied until 1 July 2018. At present, there are more than 118,000 citizenship applications which are pending for processing. Processing times for such applications currently is between 10 -14 months.

Best time to apply is now

This is the finest time to apply for citizenship before the introduction of any tough requirements by Australia. No exact prediction can be made about the changes, but the possibility that the requirement of four years of permanent residence for applicants will be one of them the aspiring applicants for Australian citizenship are advised to submit their applications now and present a completed case for being considered for a positive decision. 

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