On 22 April 2023, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the Minister for Home Affairs and the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs announced a new direct pathway to Australian citizenship for eligible New Zealand citizens, a new route to Australian citizenship for New Zealand citizens residing in Australia.
Direct Statement by the Government: Direct pathway to Australian citizenship for New Zealanders | Prime Minister of Australia (pm.gov.au)
Starting from 1 July 2023, New Zealand citizens who have lived in Australia for four (4) years or more will be able to directly apply for Australian citizenship without the need to obtain a permanent visa beforehand. This change applies to a NZ passport holder who holds a Special Category (subclass 444) visa and arrived in Australia after February 26th, 2001.
To enable New Zealand citizens who have lived in Australia for long time to meet the 12-month permanent residence period pursuant to the Citizenship Act 2007, the applicant needs to have been lawfully present in Australia for a total of four (4) years. The exact requirement will soon be revealed in the upcoming statutory amendment. Generally, in order to fulfil this requirement, an applicant needs to be a permanent resident for at least twelve (12) months prior to submitting the citizenship application in addition to the other criteria of the residence requirement.
With this to be in effect as of 1 July 2023:
- All NZ citizens on an SCV will be considered permanent residents for citizenship purposes.
- NZ citizens granted an SCV before 1 July 2022 will have their period of permanent residence for citizenship purposes set to have started on 1 July 2022 (‘backdate’).
- NZ citizens granted an SCV for the first time on or after 1 July 2022 will be considered a permanent resident for citizenship purposes from the date of their SCV grant.
- It will also apply to NZ citizens who are overseas, but held an SCV immediately before last leaving Australia.
It is important that these regulations will not be valid for citizenship applications that are filed prior to 1 July 2023. If you submit your citizenship application before this date and are not eligible to meet the requirements, your application will be refused, and you will not be entitled to a refund.
The backdating of permanent residence for SCV holders will also apply to children born to SCV holders in Australia. It means, from 1 July 2023, that any child born in Australia on or after 1 July 2023 to an SCV holder may automatically acquire Australian citizenship at birth. From 1 July 2023, children who meet these circumstances can apply for evidence of citizenship.
For further information regarding these changes, please get in touch with Visa Plan Lawyers.