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New Pathways to Citizenship for ANZAC Day

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It appears that Australia is close to amending its immigration rules for around 500,000 New Zealanders living here.

The Australian government has announced plans to streamline the citizenship process for numerous New Zealanders residing in the country. Starting 1st July, all special category visa holders can directly apply for citizenship without the need for permanent residency first, provided they meet a four-year residence and other eligibility criteria.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will be meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, to discuss significant milestones in the trans-Tasman relationship.
A central topic of discussion will be the establishment of a “pathway” for New Zealanders to obtain Australian citizenship, which Albanese pledged to announce by Anzac Day 2023.

Recently, Hipkins mentioned that his visit would include an important announcement concerning these pathways. Since the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement in 1973, free movement and work rights have been integral to the relationship between our countries.

Since the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement was implemented in 1973, free movement and work rights between New Zealand and Australia have been a key aspect of their relationship, marking 50 years.

However, the total number of New Zealanders living in Australia is not fully represented, as not all New Zealand citizens are born in the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade estimates the total to be around 700,000 – nearly 15% of New Zealand’s population. In comparison, 70,000 Australians live in New Zealand.

There is a discrepancy in how each country’s citizens are treated regarding citizenship and access to social services.

An Australian living in New Zealand is automatically considered a resident and can become a citizen after living primarily in the country for five years, passing a character test, and a basic English language test.

In contrast, New Zealanders in Australia do not have an inherent right to Australian citizenship and have limited access to social services. New Zealanders arriving in Australia receive a temporary visa, which allows them to stay indefinitely but does not grant the same rights as a permanent resident or citizen. To become a permanent resident and eventually a citizen, New Zealanders must navigate the same costly and challenging process as other migrants.

Before 2001, Kiwis with temporary visas in Australia could access social security or welfare payments. However, a policy change in 2001 revoked this privilege.

This disparity has been a source of tension, with former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern pushing for change. Both leaders have committed to developing viable pathways to citizenship.

Double demerits in place

Double demerits will be in place over the weekend leading up to ANZAC Day. We urge all drivers to prioritise safety on the roads.

Some states in Australia will be enforcing double demerits to discourage unsafe driving during this public holiday. However, not all jurisdictions have the same approach:

New South Wales and ACT:

  • Double demerits will be in effect for five days, from 12.01am on Friday, April 21, until midnight on Tuesday, April 25.
  • All traffic offences in NSW will incur double the usual demerit points.
  • In the ACT, most offences like speeding and drink driving receive double demerits, but some minor ones like failing to keep left receive only a single extra point.

Western Australia:

  • Western Australia usually has double demerits for public holidays but not for Anzac Day this year.
  • They will be back in place for public holidays later in the year, including the King’s Birthday and Christmas.

Queensland:

  • Queensland has double demerits in effect year-round but only for drivers who commit the same offence twice within 12 months.
  • This applies for speeding more than 20km/h over the limit, as well as mobile phone, seatbelt, and motorcycle helmet offences.

Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory:

  • None of these jurisdictions agree with double demerits being used as a sound road safety strategy.
  • Penalties for driving offences committed around Anzac Day in these jurisdictions will be the same as for those committed at any other time of the year.
  • If one of these states is your home state, and you get caught in a state where double demerits are in place, chances are you will only receive the monimal points from your home state and bit the double demerits. Check your individual circumstances with your home state’s road authority.

It is an offence to drive while suspended or disqualified. The maximum penalty for this offence is a fine of $3,300, imprisonment for 6 months and licence disqualification for 6 months for a first offence. For a second or subsequent offence, the maximum penalty is a fine of $5,500, imprisonment for 12 months and licence disqualification for 12 months. You can check how demerit points work here.


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Direct Pathway to Citizenship for NZ citizens

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.  

Australian Citizenship Application Rejected

When citizenship is determined by social status

There are a number of avenues to becoming an Australian citizen. The one thing they all have in common is that an applicant cannot leave Australia for more than 12 months in the four years prior to lodging their application and an applicant must be in Australia when the determination is made. It was recently announced by the Australian Immigration Minister Alex Hawke that changes to citizenship rules are on foot for “exceptional people”.  This announcement came after public pressure on the Minister in the wake of Wallabies Quade Cooper’s game-winning kick. Quade Cooper is a New Zealand citizen who moved to Australia at the age of 14. He had reportedly applied for citizenship previously. The Minister’s reasoning for this rule amendment is that “exceptional people” such as athletes are often required to leave Australia in pursuit of their craft. Therefore, they are disadvantaged while representing the county.  While it is admirable that the Immigration Minister wants to acknowledge the contributions of these “exceptional people”, one can’t help but wonder what wonderful contributions Australia is missing out on from those who don’t make the sports page of the newspaper. If you are planning on applying for Australian citizenship, contact our Immigration team for a free initial consultation. 

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