Restarting Australian Citizenship Test/Interview

Restarting Australian Citizenship Test/Interview

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This is a request to restart the citizenship tests/interviews or a change in this process. Many people on PR/Visa, who are eligible for citizenship, have lost their jobs in this difficult time. While it is not very urgent or an essential service, had they received citizenship, they would have applied to Govt. jobs or went back to college with HECS and come out equipped with better skills to help economy. Most of the states now have allowed moderate gatherings in line with medical officer’s advice. Given that majority of states, barring Victoria, has resumed near normal life, resumption of test/interview will be a great relief to all the pending candidates.

Some suggestions as below to start the tests from the applicants who are looking forward to the completion of this process:

The standard process can be slightly modified as follows to allow for social distancing and safety:

If it helps, department can ask candidates to wear mask and gloves (provided for by the candidates) while taking the computer test and during the document verification. Additionally, each computer be equipped with alcohol based wipes using which candidate should clean the keyboard and monitor before and after the test. Furthermore, test centre capacity can be reduced by 50% to maintain proper social distancing. During interview, a screen can be placed between candidate and officer so as to minimise risk of Covid transmission.

Further, plausible alternatives for tests such as below can be adopted to help in the current situation as well as improve and streamline the existing process. On a high level, the idea of the below alternatives is to split the interview and document verification step of the process and the Test step of the process, with the intention to do enable parallel processing of these steps which are presumably independent of each other. Given the higher chance of transmission of covid-19 being with the test step, separating it from document verification would help reduce the need for sanitisation and improve the measures to contain the chance of transmission. The document verification step itself can be done with a glass screen between the applicant and the department officials.

With that, the below are the alternatives suggested.

One option can be developing an app based test, which candidate can install on their own mobile and can take exam while being present at the test centre. Department can keep some spare mobile/tablets in case someone has issue with the installation of the app. This will greatly minimise the transmission risk and also any sanitation requirement for computers cleaning and help in continuing with test at regular pace.

Another option can be to add a test through some privately approved vendors/universities, similar to how the language tests are conducted. The dept. can accept certificate of successful test completion from department approved test vendors. This test would be as alternative / addition to the test by the department. The candidates can choose this test if they prefer and the fees for this would be decided by the vendors and paid by candidates to the vendors, if they choose, and the department would play no role in this except to approve a test vendor and arrange to receive the results from them, similar to how it is done for language tests and other uni courses etc. Those who choose to do the existing test by the department would continue to have that option.

Alternatively, test/interview can be waived off with special ministerial permissions. This will be similar to NZ process, where no such test/interview are conducted and citizenship is granted on the basis of document verification only. This should help in substantially reducing the huge backlog in a short span of time.

In parallel, a similar approach can be considered, if permissible and satisfactory, for interview/document verification can be done by Post Office/Centrelink/Transport/Police departments. Candidate can pay additional for availing these options.

This is a sincere request from all the candidates pending test/interview. We shall all be thankful to you.