In-person citizenship tests and appointments resumed in Melbourne this week, after COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria eased, the Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge has confirmed.
Victoria was the only state where the citizenship tests and appointments had not resumed after second-wave gripped the state.
On Wednesday, Minister Tudge confirmed tests and interviews had commenced in Melbourne this week.
“More people now have the opportunity to become Australian citizens, with citizenship testing and appointments now available in all states and territories following COVID-19 shutdowns,” Minister Tudge said.
“In-person citizenship tests and appointments resumed in Melbourne this week, after COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria eased.”
More than 30,000 citizenship tests have been administered since testing resumed in July 2020 in certain states and territories.
There are currently 117,000 people waiting for an appointment nationally, of which almost 40 per cent are in Victoria – with Melbourne being the second-largest testing centre, after the combined Sydney sites.
While citizenship processing continued during COVID-19, the pandemic has contributed to an increase in the number of people waiting for their citizenship applications to progress.
“The Government is providing additional resources and is increasing its opening hours at key locations to ensure that as many applications can be finalised as quickly as possible, while still maintaining the integrity of the citizenship program,” Minister said.
As at September 30, 2020, more than 163,874 applicants were still awaiting the outcome of their citizenship application.
Waiting times have shot up to 30 months from date of application to ceremony for 90 per cent of the applicants.
90,000 new citizens welcomed since March
More than 90,000 residents have pledged their allegiance to Australia as new citizens since March.
“Despite the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, since 31 March 2020, more than 90,000 people from every state and territory have become Australian citizens in online ceremonies,” Minister Tudge said.
“As at 31 October 2020, a further 14,000 people had become citizens through in-person ceremonies since they resumed in June 2020.”
“In-person ceremonies have resumed in a number of states and territories as restrictions have eased, and local councils are encouraged to resume in-person ceremonies in a COVID-safe manner.”
New Australian citizenship test came into effect this week
The resumption of tests and interviews this week in Melbourne coincided with the introduction of the new citizenship tests.
The updated test has a greater focus on Australian values, including the rule of law, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association and equality of opportunity for all people in Australia.