Friday, May 24, 2024

Immigration breakthrough for Kiwis living in Australia

Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, has today welcomed an historic decision by the Australian Government to provide a new direct pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders living in Australia.

Mr Hipkins said the move will bring the two countries closer together.

“This is the biggest improvement in the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia in a generation and restores most of the rights Kiwis had in Australia before they were revoked in 2001,” Mr Hipkins said.

“Successive New Zealand Prime Ministers have advocated for this change for two decades. It’s pleasing that the close relationship between leaders of two like-minded governments was instrumental in reaching this outcome.

“Today’s announcement brings our nations closer together. It underscores the strength and breadth of the bonds between our countries ahead of my visit this weekend.”

He said the changes will make a real and meaningful difference to the lives of many New Zealanders and their children by giving those who decide to take up Australian citizenship similar rights to Australians living in New Zealand.

“Kiwis taking up Australian citizenship will still retain their New Zealand citizenship. These dual citizens are not lost to New Zealand – but draw us closer together.”

It will apply to Kiwis on temporary, special category, visas who have arrived since 2001 and lived in Australia for four years and meet the standard criteria for citizenship including character checks and intention to reside in Australia.

Children born in Australia since 1 July 2022 to a New Zealand parent living there will also automatically be entitled to citizenship. This will make critical services available to them.

“Most of us know someone who’s moved across the Tasman. They work hard, pay taxes and deserve a fair go. These changes deliver that and reverse erosions that have taken place over 20 years,” said Mr Hipkins.

The announcement delivers on Prime Minister Albanese’s commitment that no New Zealander should be left “permanently temporary” in Australia.

“I acknowledge and thank Prime Minister Albanese for his instrumental role in prioritising these improvements.”

The pathway to Australian citizenship comes into effect on 1 July 2023 and:

  • Applies to Kiwis on temporary, special category, visas who have lived in Australia for four years, and meet the standard Australian citizenship criteria (e.g. pass a character check, adequate knowledge of Australia, a basic English competency, will continue to reside in or have a connection with Australia) and attend a citizenship ceremony.
  • Is retrospective. Those in Australia since 2001 will be able to apply directly for citizenship without gaining permanent residence first.   
  • Is affordable (the fee is A$490).
  • Has no minimum income requirement or health requirement.
  • Gives Kiwis access to services and benefits, once they become citizens.
  • Allows Kiwi children born in Australia to become citizens at birth (rather than waiting till they turn 10, as they do now).

It also applies to New Zealand citizens, including New Zealand citizens from the states and territories within the Realm of New Zealand (the Cook Islands, Niue and Tokelau).

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