Australia Announces Direct Pathway to Citizenship for New Zealanders

On Saturday, 22 April, Australia announced a new direct pathway to Australian citizenship for eligible New Zealand citizens. The pathway comes into effect on 1 July 2023 and applies to Special Category Visa holders. 

Australian citizenship after four years of residence in Australia

From 1 July, New Zealand citizens with Special Category Visas (Subclass 444) who arrived in Australia since 2001 will be able to apply directly for Australian citizenship.

It won’t be necessary for these New Zealanders to first become permanent residents. Instead, all that’s required is four years of having lived in Australia and being able to meet the standard citizenship criteria.

Australia is “proud” to offer citizenship benefits to New Zealanders

The new direct pathway to citizenship will make it much easier for New Zealanders to obtain Australian citizenship. 

Besides not having to have permanent residence first, eligible New Zealanders also won’t have to meet minimum income requirements or health criteria. Furthermore, New Zealand children born in Australia will become citizens at birth instead of only getting citizenship at 10 years old.

““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”, said Minister for Immigration Andrew Giles.

The policy change also brings the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia more in line with those of Australians living in New Zealand. New Zealanders will have access to services and benefits associated with citizenship, such as student loans and unemployment benefits.

“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”, said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

New Zealand welcomes the change in Australia’s immigration policy

New Zealand’s Prime Minister Chris Hipkins welcomed Australia’s decision.

“Today’s announcement brings our nations closer together. It underscores the strength and breadth of the bonds between our countries ahead of my visit this weekend. These changes will make a real and meaningful difference to the lives of many New Zealanders and their children by giving those who decide to take up Australian citizenship similar rights to Australians living in New Zealand”, PM Hipkins said.

PM Hipkins assured New Zealanders taking up Australian citizenship that they’re entitled to dual citizenship.

“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.”

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