Good news for New Zealand citizens residing in Australia: on 22nd April 2023, the Australian Government unveiled a direct pathway to Australian citizenship for New Zealand citizens residing in Australia.
Beginning 1st July 2023, New Zealand citizens who have lived in Australia for at least four years will be able to directly apply for Australian citizenship, without the need to first apply for and be granted a permanent visa.
These changes pertain to New Zealand citizens holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa (SCV) who arrived in Australia after 26th February 2001. Protected SCV holders will still be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship directly.
For long-term New Zealand residents in Australia, this will be achieved by retroactively recognising their period of permanent residence for citizenship purposes, enabling them to fulfil the 12-month permanent residence period under the general residence requirement.
As outlined in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, the general residence requirement for Australian citizenship by conferral necessitates an applicant to be lawfully present in Australia for four years, including 12 months as a permanent resident, immediately before the application date.
Effective from 1st July 2023:
- All New Zealand citizens with an SCV will be deemed permanent residents for citizenship purposes.
- New Zealand citizens granted an SCV before 1st July 2022 will have their period of permanent residence for citizenship purposes backdated to 1st July 2022.
- New Zealand citizens granted an SCV for the first time on or after 1st July 2022 will be recognised as a permanent resident for citizenship purposes from the date of their SCV grant.
These provisions will be applicable to New Zealand citizens in Australia and to those overseas who held an SCV immediately before their last leaving Australia.
However, these provisions will not apply to citizenship applications submitted before 1st July 2023. If you submit your citizenship application before this date and fail to meet the eligibility requirements, your application will be rejected, and no refund will be granted.
Applying for Australian citizenship or an Australian visa can be a complex and time consuming process. Contact our expert immigration lawyers for a free initial consultation.