It is now easier for New Zealanders living in Australia to become citizens

new zealanders in australia

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and the Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs have announced a new direct pathway to Australian citizenship for eligible New Zealand citizens.

Changes in 2001 made it more difficult for New Zealanders in Australia to attain citizenship.

Today we have announced that from 1 July 2023, New Zealand citizens living in Australia will have a direct pathway to Australian citizenship.

All Special Category Visa holders will be able to apply directly for citizenship without becoming permanent residents first, as long as they meet a four-year residence and other eligibility requirements.

This is a fair change for New Zealanders living in Australia, and brings their rights more in line with Australians living in New Zealand. This is consistent with our ambition to build a fairer, better managed and more inclusive migration system.

Many New Zealand citizens choose to live and contribute to Australia, so it is reasonable they have the opportunity to become Australian citizens and enjoy the rights and obligations that come from citizenship.

“Australia and New Zealand have a deep friendship, which has been forged through our history, shared values and common outlook,” said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, I look forward to strengthening our relationship.”

“We know that many New Zealanders are here on a Special Category Visa while raising families, working and building their lives in Australia. So I am proud to offer the benefits that citizenship provides.”

“Australians and New Zealanders share a special bond and it’s important that we reflect that in the way we treat New Zealand citizens who choose to make Australia home,” said Minister Clare O’Neil.

“Today’s changes will strengthen ties with our closest neighbour, and will mean the many people already living and working in our communities can enjoy the benefits of citizenship.

“Anthony Albanese is ensuring the deep, strong connection between our two countries is reflected in how we treat Kiwis living in Australia.”

Minister Andrew Giles said: “Australia is a country built on citizenship. It is only fair the opportunity to become an Australian Citizen is made easier for our closest friends and allies.

“This announcement will make a significant difference to the lives of people already living and working and in our communities.”

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has welcomed Australia’s historic decision to provide a new direct pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders living in Australia, saying it will bring the two countries closer together.

“This is the biggest improvement in the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia in a generation and restores most of the rights Kiwis had in Australia before they were revoked in 2001,” Chris Hipkins said.

“Successive New Zealand Prime Ministers have advocated for this change for two decades. It’s pleasing that the close relationship between leaders of two like-minded governments was instrumental in reaching this outcome.

“Kiwis taking up Australian citizenship will still retain their New Zealand citizenship. These dual citizens are not lost to New Zealand – but draw us closer together.”

“It will apply to Kiwis on temporary, special category, visas who have arrived since 2001 and lived in Australia for four years and meet the standard criteria for citizenship including character checks and intention to reside in Australia.

“Children born in Australia since 1 July 2022 to a New Zealand parent living there will also automatically be entitled to citizenship. This will make critical services available to them.

“Most of us know someone who’s moved across the Tasman. They work hard, pay taxes and deserve a fair go. These changes deliver that and reverse erosions that have taken place over 20 years.

The pathway to citizenship:

  • Rights come into effect on 1 July, 2023.
  • Applies to Kiwis on temporary, special category, visas who have lived in Australia for four years, and meet the standard Australian citizenship criteria (e.g. pass a character check, adequate knowledge of Australia, a basic English competency, will continue to reside in or have a connection with Australia) and attend a citizenship ceremony.
  • Is retrospective. Those in Australia since 2001 will be able to apply directly for citizenship without gaining permanent residence first.   
  • Is affordable (the fee is A$490).
  • Has no minimum income requirement or health requirement.
  • Gives Kiwis access to services and benefits, once they become citizens.
  • Allows Kiwi children born in Australia to become citizens at birth (rather than waiting till they turn 10, as they do now).

Applies to New Zealand citizens, including New Zealand citizens from the states and territories within the Realm of New Zealand (the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau).

Source: Australian Government

Source: New Zealand Government

Background:

The Liberal government in Australia introduced several laws and policies that affected New Zealanders living in Australia. Here are some of the significant changes that were made at the time:

  1. Special Category Visa (SCV): In 2001, the Liberal government introduced the SCV, which allowed New Zealanders to live and work in Australia indefinitely. However, the SCV did not provide a pathway to Australian citizenship or permanent residency.
  2. Welfare Access: In 2016, the government made changes to the eligibility criteria for social welfare benefits, which affected New Zealanders living in Australia. As a result, some New Zealanders who arrived in Australia after February 2001 were not eligible for certain social welfare benefits, such as disability support pensions and carer payments.
  3. Citizenship Requirements: In 2017, the government introduced changes to the citizenship requirements, which included an English language test, a stronger residency requirement, and a new values test. These changes mainly affected people from non-English-speaking countries, but they also apply to New Zealanders.
  4. Deportation: In 2014, the government introduced new laws that allow the deportation of non-citizens who have committed serious crimes in Australia. This law affects many New Zealanders, as they make up a significant proportion of non-citizens living in Australia.

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