Our specialist Hicksons Immigration lawyers have been closely following the developments in Australian citizenship laws for New Zealanders, and welcome the 2023 changes announced by the Australian Government.
These changes substantially improve options for New Zealand citizens wanting to obtain Australian citizenship, particularly after the Australian Government introduced new legislations that made it increasingly difficult for New Zealanders to become Australian citizens in 2017.
Changes to Citizenship Eligibility
Most New Zealand citizens in Australia are holders of the Special Category visa (SCV) (subclass 444)
, a visa which does not limit how long individuals can stay in Australia.
From 1 July 2023 onwards, changes to citizenship eligibility for some SCV holders apply. These changes are positive and provide a direct pathway to Australian citizenship for many New Zealand citizens.
Namely, New Zealand citizens who have been living in Australia for four years or more and
arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 are eligible to apply directly for Australian citizenship. Critically, this change means that SCV holders will no longer need to first apply for, and be granted, a permanent visa.
This significantly simplifies the pathway to Australian citizenship for New Zealand citizens and, in some circumstances, creates a pathway to citizenship, where that option did not previously exist.
Citizenship for children was also previously a difficult issue, with many cases of children born in Australia to some visa holders not having automatic citizenship rights. However, from 1 July 2023, any child born in Australia on or after 1 July 2022 to an SCV holder may automatically acquire Australian citizenship.
As immigration lawyers, we have seen firsthand how citizenship can impact Australian residents, including people who have been living and working in Australia for many years. Unfortunately, some have struggled to meet the stringent Australian citizenship requirements. In this case, these simplified and direct options for SCV holders are a welcomed improvement.
It is important that New Zealanders consider seeking the advice of an experienced professional to help navigate the complex requirements and ensure that their application is as strong as possible if they are wanting to apply for Australian citizenship, or where they have any concerns about the citizenship eligibility of their children.
Should you need any assistance, our experienced Hicksons Migration Assistance Service (H-MAS)
team is available to provide guidance on these changes, or with any other citizenship issues you may have.
Article written by Hicksons' Partner, Najeh Marhaba and Solicitor, Chloe Willis.