In a groundbreaking move, Australia introduced a new policy on 1 July 2023, granting an alternative pathway to citizenship for qualifying New Zealand citizens who have resided in the country for a minimum of four years. This progressive shift eliminates the need for New Zealanders to obtain a permanent visa, offering a retrospective pathway to dual citizenship. The new policy aims to address historical inequalities, enhance the rights and benefits for New Zealanders in Australia, and strengthen the relationship between the two nations.

According to Moving to,

The new law 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 – such as an English test, demonstrating “adequate knowledge” of Australia, and including character checks and intention to reside in Australia.

The cost will be a standard processing fee of A$490 (about NZ$534), which is well below the current fees of over A$4000.

Retrospective Dual Citizenship:

Starting from 1 July 2023, New Zealand citizens who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 and have lived in the country for at least four years can now directly apply for Australian citizenship. This forward-thinking approach enables eligible individuals to become dual nationals, enjoying the privileges and advantages of both Australian and New Zealand citizenship. Dual nationals have the freedom to hold passports from both countries, granting them access to social security payments, healthcare, voting rights, and various other benefits.

Permanent Residence for Citizenship Purposes:

To facilitate the retrospective pathway to Australian citizenship for New Zealand citizens, their period of Australian permanent residence is backdated. The Special Category Visa (SCV) held by New Zealand citizens is now recognized as equivalent to Australian permanent residence. By considering the SCV as a valid form of permanent residence, New Zealanders can meet the general residence requirement of four years, including a minimum of 12 months as a permanent resident, as mandated by the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.

Key Provisions and Changes:

To understand the significance of this transformative policy shift, let’s explore the key provisions and changes that will come into effect from 1 July 2023:

Australian Permanent Residence: All New Zealand citizens holding an SCV will be acknowledged as Australian permanent residents for citizenship purposes.

Backdating of Permanent Residence: New Zealand citizens granted an SCV before 1 July 2022 will have their period of permanent residence for citizenship purposes backdated to 1 July 2022.

Recognition of SCV Holders: New Zealand citizens granted an SCV for the first time on or after 1 July 2022 will be considered permanent residents for citizenship purposes from the date of their SCV grant.

Benefits of Dual Citizenship:

The acquisition of dual citizenship brings forth a multitude of advantages and opportunities for New Zealand citizens living in Australia. Some key benefits include:

Expanded Rights and Privileges: Dual citizens enjoy comprehensive rights and privileges, such as access to social security payments, healthcare services, and voting rights in both Australia and New Zealand.

Retained New Zealand Citizenship: New Zealanders who become Australian citizens are not required to renounce their New Zealand citizenship. Dual nationals can maintain their New Zealand passport while enjoying the benefits of Australian citizenship.

Greater Security and Stability: Australian citizenship provides a sense of security and stability, allowing individuals to fully integrate into Australian society and actively participate in all aspects of national life.

Improved Opportunities: Dual citizens have access to broader employment opportunities and may experience improved socio-economic prospects, contributing to personal growth and success.

Implications for Children of SCV Holders:

Children born in Australia to SCV holders on or after 1 July 2022 will also be impacted by these changes. They have the opportunity to automatically acquire Australian citizenship at birth, unlocking a host of opportunities and benefits. Eligible children can apply for evidence of citizenship starting from 1 July 2023.

Australia’s historic decision to offer a direct pathway to citizenship for eligible New Zealand residents represents a significant stride in strengthening the ties between the two nations. This momentous policy change recognizes the contributions and rights of New Zealanders living in Australia, rectifying longstanding inequalities and fostering a more inclusive society. By embracing dual citizenship, eligible individuals can unlock a range of benefits while maintaining their connection to New Zealand. These changes will have a profound and positive impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Zealand citizens residing in Australia, marking a significant milestone in the ongoing relationship between the two countries.