New Pathway to Citizenship for New Zealand Citizens
From 1 July 2023, New Zealand Citizens who have lived in Australia for at least 4 years as the holder of a Special Category Visa will be able to apply directly for Australian Citizenship, without first needing to apply for permanent residency.
This change follows the temporary closure of the Subclass 189 Skilled Independent New Zealand Stream visa on 10 December 2022. This visa pathway was limited to New Zealand Citizens who arrived in Australia prior to 19 February 2016, and required applicants to demonstrate they had been living in Australia for at least 5 years, and have taxable earnings over a certain threshold during most of that period.
This more restrictive pathway will close permanently on 1 July 2023.
Special Category Visa
New Zealand Citizens travelling to Australia are generally granted a Subclass 444 Special Category Visa (SCV) upon entry. Many travellers do not realise they have been granted a visa at the airport! The Subclass 444 visa has full work and study rights, along with an indefinite stay.
The 444 visa ceases upon departure from Australia, and a new one is granted at re-entry.
Citizenship Residence Requirement
Current rules for Australian Citizenship require applicants to demonstrate a number of residence requirements, including:
- 12 months as a permanent resident; and
- Being lawfully resident in Australia for 4 years immediately prior to lodgement; and
- Absences from Australia of no more than 1 year in the last 4 years and no more than 90 days in the 12 months immediately before applying.
The new legislation means that New Zealand Citizens will be considered permanent residents for the purposes of the Citizenship residence requirement
from the date they arrived in Australia, or from 1 June 2022 if they arrived in Australia prior to that date.
New Zealand Citizens who were granted a Subclass 189 NZ Stream Visa (and their included family members) have already had their permanent residency for citizenship purposes backdated to 1 January 2022.
Children Born in Australia
From 1 July 2023, any child of a New Zealand Citizen SCV holder who was born in Australia on or after 1 July 2022 may automatically acquire Australian citizenship at birth. Children who meet these circumstances can apply for evidence of citizenship.
Children born in Australia between 1 January 2022 and 30 June 2023, before the grant of their parent/s New Zealand stream Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa, and where this visa was also granted between these dates, may retrospectively acquire Australian citizenship automatically by birth.