The Australian government has announced a new pathway for New Zealanders living in Australia to apply for Australian citizenship. The new option for permanent residency will be available to tens of thousands of New Zealand expats currently living and working Down Under. Here's what kiwis need to know.
New Zealand image from Shutterstock
Today we are announcing a pathway for New Zealand citizens who live in Australia to apply for Australian citizenship https://t.co/7BUoFXLwbj
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) February 19, 2016
Today, the Turnbull government announced an additional visa pathway that will open the door for New Zealand citizens who live in Australia to apply for Australian citizenship. Here's the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on how the pathway works:
In acknowledgment of our special bilateral relationship, the Australian Government will provide an additional pathway to permanent residence, and therefore citizenship, for New Zealand Special Category visa (SCV) holders who arrived after 26 February 2001, who have lived in Australia for the last five years and shown a commitment and contribution to Australia. The additional visa pathway will be available from 1 July 2017, for New Zealand citizens who arrived post 26 February 2001, but on or before, the date of the announcement, 19 February 2016.
The pathway will be made available within the Skilled Independent category of the General Skilled Migration (GSM) stream of Australia's annual Migration Programme.
To apply, SCV holders need to have been living in Australia for the past five years, and earned the Australian median income annually ($53,000) throughout their qualifying residence period. Applicants will be subject to the usual mandatory health, character, and security checks.
A visa application charge (VAC) of $3600 per primary applicant applies, with an additional $1800 for partners, $1800 per dependent child over 18 and $900 per child under 18. Applicants will only have to pay 20 per cent of the VAC when they lodge their application. The remainder must be paid before the visa is granted.
Here are the steps to become an Australian citizen:
- New Zealanders taking advantage of this pathway will usually be able to apply for citizenship after one year of permanent residence, provided they meet the allowable overseas absences requirement.
- Note: This requirement means, a person must not have been absent from Australia for more than one year in total in the four year period, including no more than 90 days in the year before applying
- The usual citizenship eligibility requirements will apply such as: be of good character if 18 years of age or over, be likely to reside, or continue to reside, or maintain a close and continuing relationship to Australia, meet the identity requirement, pass the citizenship test if aged between 18 and 59 years or pass a citizenship interview.
- Note: All applicants must submit a valid application and pay the relevant fee.
It is estimated that around 150,000 New Zealand SCV holders currently live and work in Australia. Of those, between 60,000 and 70,000 are expected to be eligible.