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Normally 10am would find me sitting in front of my computer at work, sipping a cup of tea and digging in to my work for the day. Yesterday at 10am, I was sitting in the waiting room of the Immigration Office in Brisbane, waiting for my citizenship interview.
What did I expect from this interview? Well, I thought it would take up a good portion of my work day…or at least until lunch time. I thought that I would be sitting down and talking to an interviewer for up to thirty minutes, while she quizzed me on the finer points of why I wanted to be an Australian citizen. I’d heard that I might be asked about my “dedication to Australia,” so I thought I might have to talk about the things tying me to Australia, like my job, my boyfriend, and the fact that I’ve built up a life for myself here.
What actually happened in the interview? I was called up to the counter at 10 o’clock on the dot, where I was asked for my completed identity declaration and the originals of the documents I provided in the application (my passport, my driver’s license, and my birth certificate, which show my nationality, my arrival in Australia, my address, and my place of birth).
I asked if it was going to cause problems for the citizenship grant (since you have to be onshore when it is granted). She said that the onshore police check is usually what takes a while so she would start that process; a few seconds later, my record came back clean. Talk about efficient!
She then said that, provided I passed the test, she would review my file and grant citizenship the same afternoon. I was a bit shocked, to be honest. Sure, one of my work visas only took two days to grant, but on the other side, they’ve taken over two years to process my friend’s permanent residency visa.
She handed me my identification number and that was the end of the ‘interview.’ There were no hardball questions about why I wanted to be a citizen, no real questions at all. I guess it really was just an appointment rather than an interview.
In the testing room, a quiet room filled with computers and only a few other potential citizens, I entered my number into a computer and began the test — a 20 question multiple choice affair that you are given 45 minutes to complete.
I hadn’t been very studious about this test, to be honest. I knew it was coming up, but as usual I procrastinated so I ended up reading the booklet provided by the immigration department the night before. Fortunately that booklet is the only source of material for the test and nearly everything it covered were facts that you would know from having lived in Australia for the required four years. For example:
On which day do Australians celebrate Anzac Day? January 1, January 26, or April 25?
Even though this test seemed incredibly easy to me, I can see how it would be challenging to someone who was not immersed in Australian society — and this is the main point of the test. Aside from making sure you have a basic knowledge of English, Australia wants to know if you understand some of the basic building blocks that the country is built on. And while some of the multiple-choice answers seemed laughable to me, they were often things that had been featured in the study booklet in some way.
I finished the test in 1 minute and 37 seconds and got 100%. It was probably the fastest test I’ve ever taken (except for that Calculus III final that I walked out of because I had no idea how to do any of the problems. Needless to say, I didn’t get 100% on that one).
And with that, I was done. I was one step closer to being an Australian citizen and the major hurdle had been crossed. I haven’t received the official citizenship grant yet, but I am hoping to soon. Then I’ll only have one final step: the citizenship ceremony. Until then, even though I will have had citizenship officially granted, I will not be a citizen…although at this point, that’s a very good thing. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have time to apply for an Australian passport to get back into the country after my European trip that starts next week!
In any case, I’m nearly there!
UPDATE (1 September): I received the citizenship grant in the mail this morning, dated the same day as my interview & test. I can’t believe how quick that was!
Have you ever had an experience with immigration that was significantly easier than you thought it would be?