Hundreds of thousands of migrants from China, India and the United Kingdom face waiting more than a year to receive their Australian citizenship as the queue blows out and the economy risks losing a critical part of its skilled workforce.
Despite a 100,000 drop in the number of applications to become an Australian citizen over the past year, the average number of days from lodgement to approval sits at 410 days, up from 167 in 2012-13 but down from 493 last year.
The figures, provided by the Department of Home Affairs in response to questions from Labor MP Julian Hill, show there are close to 30,000 Indians, 27,000 British citizens and over 17,500 Chinese nationals waiting to become Australian citizens. In total, there are over 221,415 people waiting to have their citizenship applications processed.
Last year, migrants told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age they had been left despairing at the situation, putting their plans to study, vote, use medicare, sponsor family members and apply for government jobs on hold.