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Can you name the above iconic Aussie foods? Don’t worry – that isn’t part of the Australian citizenship test!

If you follow me on Facebook and Instagram you’ll know that last month my husband and I passed the Australian citizenship test. I wrote a detailed post about how to apply for citizenship a few weeks before that. In that post I talked about eligibility for Australian citizenship and shared our experience of applying for Aussie citizenship. Read the post here.

As promised, now that I’ve taken the Au citizenship test and had the citizenship interview, I wanted to share my experience of what it was actually like to help you feel prepared for the big day when your time comes.

Tips for passing the Australian citizenship test

I was actually feeling very nervous about taking the Australian citizenship test – much more so than I expected! Before I began revising, I assumed that it was going to be all common sense questions but, when I started preparing, I realised there was a lot that I needed to learn in order to pass the citizenship test in Australia.

You must read the Australian Citizenship Our Common Bond booklet (you can download it here). There is no avoiding it. Read it again and again and again as it’s easy to miss tiny details that can come up in questions. Questions like: which state has a rugged coastline? Or: which state has lots of unspoilt wilderness?  You might think all states in Australia have a rugged coastline, and there are a few states that have what you might call ‘wilderness’ but you just need to know what citizenship answers are in the booklet as that is all that matters!

In your preparation for the citizenship test, do lots of practice test papers. You can take citizenship practice tests on the Home Affairs website here or there are lots of other sites that offer free tests. While reading the citizenship book helps you learn the basics, the test papers help you learn how the questions are framed, so it’s really important that you go through lots of the citizenship test papers.

Lots of questions are common sense but there are also citizenship questions that you will only know from reading the booklet. Sometimes questions are worded in a way to catch you out too so you learn this through going through lots of citizenship test questions.

What to expect on citizenship test day

I really wanted to know how the citizenship test day was structured as I hate not knowing what to expect. I found very little information online about what happens when you arrive for your citizenship appointment, so I really wanted to share our experience as I know it would have really helped calm my nerves.

A waiting room of people at the Australian citizenship interview

Here is what happened when we went for our Australian citizenship test in Brisbane in September 2019…

My husband and I were only allowed to check in 20 minutes before our appointment time slot. As our appointments were an hour apart, I had hoped we’d both be able to wait in the waiting room together but they wouldn’t let me in at the same time so I had to go for a coffee to wait.

When we arrived, we had to check in. To do this, we had to scan the barcode on our letter and take a ticket. When a few of us had gathered for the time slot, a security guard showed us into the waiting area. There were a few rows of seats like in a doctor’s waiting room.

Ticket numbers were called on a screen one by one and we were directed to a numbered desk for our citizenship interview. This was the longest part of the day where we probably sat for 20 – 30 minutes waiting to be called.

When my number came up, I went to the numbered desk and was introduced to the clerk who was doing my citizenship ‘interview’. Really the interview is just about checking all of your paperwork is in order so it wasn’t anything to worry about.

I had to bring my birth certificate, marriage certificate, Medicare card, driving license, a bill with my address on it and my passport (which is the same passport I arrived in the country on).  My husband also brought all of our kids’ birth certificates, the passports they arrived in the country on and their new passports as the kids were all under his application.

The clerk went through everything. She asked me to confirm my addresses and some basic details like date of birth. It all took no more than 5-10 minutes. We made sure that my husband’s application was connected to mine in the computer system so we could get the same ceremony date. I was advised that this would tie our applications together and if one of us were to fail the test then it could hold us both up.

Next, she explained the process of taking the citizenship test. She told me (in a kind way) that if I failed but got more than 50% correct then I’d be able to retake it on the same day. She showed me into a room with a glass wall and computers with little partitions up between. She opened up a new test for me to begin and she left me to it. There were a couple of other people in the room at the same time – people were coming and going to take their tests after their interview was complete (so it wasn’t like everybody sat down and did the test at the same time).

It only took a few minutes to complete the test. One question comes up on the screen at a time, and then the next button takes you to the next question. At the end of the 20 questions, you can go back and check all of your answers before you hit the submit button which gives you some breathing space and lets you check you haven’t mis-read any questions.

My interviewer told me that if I passed the test I could leave my screen open and give her a wave on my way out. Matt was asked to go back and see his interviewer to sit with them for a minute to confirm all was fine. Either way, there was no big handshake or big event. I just gave the clerk a little wave (as she was by now dealing with the next person) and I saw myself out. It was a big anticlimax after so much stress!

We both got 20 out of 20. Phew!

What happens after the citizenship test and interview

A few days after the test day, my husband’s citizenship application changed on the Home Affairs system from pending to accepted. Shortly after, he received a letter confirming he has been accepted and advising him he will be invited to a ceremony. Unfortunately, my application hasn’t changed at all and is still pending! It is almost a month after the test day now.

We are beginning to think that we made a mistake connecting our applications. Although it would be nice to all have a ceremony on the same day, in hindsight, my delayed acceptance could end up causing us a big headache. We have been avoiding international travel because to buy Resident Return Visas for a family of five costs over $2000. If four family members had Australian passports, it wouldn’t be so bad having to buy one RRV for $405. We had plans to travel abroad next year for a holiday, but we may now need to delay our trip as I’d much rather spend $2000 on fun things than on visas which will be superseded when our citizenship comes through!

Hopefully, the wait won’t be too much longer – it seems strange that tests done an hour apart aren’t being processed around the same time but it’s worth being aware of. My suggestion is not to connect your applications unless you already have a resident return visa in place so you aren’t in a hurry to get your hands on your Aussie passports like we are.

[Update: My acceptance letter came four weeks after the citizenship test so there was a bit of a wait but it came through eventually!]

If you’re looking for holiday ideas within Australia while you’re waiting for your citizenship, check out this post about family city breaks in Australia and this post about planning a holiday to Noosa.

I can’t say we’re going to feel different when we’re Australian citizens, but it will feel so good knowing that we’ve made it official. It feels like the final piece of the puzzle for us. Now I just have to be patient and wait for my status to update!

I can’t wait to tell you all about the Australian citizenship ceremony next! I’m still keeping everything crossed that things work out for Australia Day 2020 but we’ll have to see how my application status goes.

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