Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Minister for Home Affairs Clare O’Neil, and Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, Andrew Giles, announced a new direct pathway to Australian Citizenship for eligible New Zealand citizens this week.
For so long New Zealand citizens have languished in Australia on 444 or Special Category Visas (SCV’s); indefinite visas without expiry dates that do not afford them the same entitlements as their Australian permanent resident counterparts. Despite relocating to Australia as children, undergoing all education here and then working and paying taxes for several years, NZ citizens have had to traverse the pathway of first becoming permanent residents and then applying for Australian Citizenship years later, if and when eligible.
Under the proposed new rules, which are due to take effect from 1 July 2023, all Special Category Visa holders will be able to apply directly for Citizenship subject to satisfying a four-year residence and other standard Citizenship requirements.
From 1 July 2023, all NZ citizens holding an SCV will be deemed to be permanent residents for Citizenship purposes, and they will be permitted to ‘bypass’ the separate permanent residency visa application process.
NZ citizens granted an SCV before 1 July 2022 will have their permanent residence backdated to 1 July 2022, and those who were granted an SCV for the first time on or after 1 July 2022 will be deemed to be permanent residents from the date of their SCV grant.
There will be implications for any children born to SCV holders in Australia on or after 1 July 2022 as well and they may be entitled to apply for Evidence of Citizenship from 1 July 2023.
These changes will make the process of acquiring Australian Citizenship far more streamlined for NZ citizens residing here. Prime Minister Albanese announced that, “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 announcement is welcome news to many of our NZ clients who have been actively contributing to Australia on a long-term basis, and who will now be able to reap the benefits of Australian Citizenship.
It is important to note that the standard Australian Citizenship eligibility requirements still stand and will need to be satisfied, in addition to the above, for an application to be approved.
If you have an ongoing permanent residency application on foot or if you are seeking to determine your or your child’s eligibility for Australian Citizenship in view of this announcement, we encourage you to reach out to Mullins’ specialist Migration team for an in-depth consultation.