Citizenship application delays

Citizenship application delays

Under the current government, the processing time for Australian citizenship applications has drastically increased.

Although the number of citizenship applications has considerably risen during the past four years, a review by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) found that the government has not been dealing with citizenship applications in a timely or cost-efficient manner. Whereas citizenship applications previously took around 80 days to be processed, the standard processing time is now over 300 days. In the last financial year, only 15% of citizenship applications were finalised within 80 days, and in 80% of cases, it took up to 337 days from the date of lodgement, for the Department of Home Affairs to make a decision on an application. This is four times longer than the previous processing time. As of 24 March 2019, 228,154 citizenship applications are still awaiting to be finalised.

Persons who arrived in Australia by boat or as refugees have been particularly affected by the delays and have had to wait an average of 682 days for their applications to be processed. This is in contrast to a standard processing time of 383 days for skilled migrants. It has been found that citizenship applications made by refugees were set aside and not looked at for over 12 months.

The number of citizenship applications being refused has also doubled in the last five years with the government investing significant time and resources into increased security and character assessments. It is noted that the character requirements for citizenship applications are more stringent than for visa applications.

If you are planning to apply for Australian citizenship and are from a refugee background or have identity or character issues, we encourage you to seek legal advice before you submit your application to avoid any potential issues or refusal of the application.

If you require any further information on your citizenship application or any other immigration matter, feel free to contact us via our enquiry form available on the website or via phone by calling us directly on 03 8630 2828.