Long queues for migrants
THE number of Australian Citizenship applications queued up at Immigration has blown out to more than 200,000, with people now being forced to wait almost 18 months to have their applications finalised.
Sources have told The Courier-Mail that people who first lodged their applications 16 months ago, back in April last year, are only now being interviewed by officials.
And it’s estimated that they would not get to a citizenship ceremony any time before next year.
Revelation of the extent of the backlog places further pressure on the already embattled Home Affairs Minister a Peter Dutton, who oversaw the Immigration Department from December 2014 until last month’s leadership coup and who is embroiled in a senate inquiry into his decision to grant visas to foreign au pairs.
Under Mr Dutton’s reign the number of citizenship applications awaiting adjudication jumped from just 22,952 in the 2014-2015 year to 242,606 in the financial year just gone.
In July, the Immigration Department claimed online that 75 per cent of applications are processed within 15 months and 90 per cent within 17 months.
The Government says there has been a 176.9 per cent increase in applications in the years from 2010-11 to the past financial year and says the delays are a result of this and an increased focus on integrity in assessing applications.
Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Australia Tony Burke says the Government must urgently explain what is being done clear the backlog.
Community and Public Service Union deputy national president Lisa Newman said: “The sorry state of visa and citizenship is due to immigration staff being cut at a time when the department has never been so busy.”