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Simplified Path to Australian Citizenship for New Zealand Citizens: Key Updates Starting July 2023

1. Direct Citizenship Applications

Starting July 1, 2023, New Zealand citizens residing in Australia for four years or more can directly apply for Australian citizenship without needing a prior permanent visa. This change is applicable to New Zealand citizens holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa (SCV) who arrived in Australia after February 26, 2001. Protected SCV holders retain the right to apply directly for Australian citizenship.

2. Adjusted Permanent Residence Period

For long-term resident New Zealand citizens in Australia, their permanent residence period will be backdated for citizenship purposes. This adjustment enables them to fulfill the 12-month permanent residence requirement under the general residence condition.

3. General Residence Requirement

The general residence requirement, outlined in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007, mandates that applicants must be lawfully present in Australia for four years, including 12 months as a permanent resident, immediately before the application date.

The applicant must meet General Residence Requirement to be eligible to Australian Citizenship

The applicant fulfills the general residence requirement if they meet the following criteria:

  1. Resided in Australia continuously for four years leading up to the application date.
  2. Maintained a total absence from Australia not exceeding 12 months during those four years.
  3. Maintained lawful presence in Australia, avoiding any period of unlawful stay during the four-year period.
  4. Held the status of a permanent resident for a consecutive 12-month period right before applying.
  5. Ensured any absence from Australia in the last 12 months before the application (while holding permanent residency) did not exceed 90 days in total.

Note: The four-year residence period can commence even while residing overseas, provided the applicant had a prior presence in Australia, and their cumulative absence during that four-year period did not surpass 12 months.

Effect from July 1, 2023:

  • All New Zealand citizens with an SCV will be recognized as permanent residents for citizenship purposes.
  • New Zealand citizens granted an SCV before July 1, 2022, will have their permanent residence period for citizenship purposes backdated to July 1, 2022.
  • New Zealand citizens granted an SCV for the first time on or after July 1, 2022, will be considered permanent residents for citizenship purposes from their SCV grant date.

4. Application Conditions

These provisions apply to New Zealand citizens residing in Australia and those, while overseas, who held an SCV immediately before leaving Australia. However, these provisions won’t apply to citizenship applications submitted before July 1, 2023. If you submit your application before this date and do not meet the eligibility requirements, your application will be refused, and no refund will be provided.

5. Impact on Children

The backdating of permanent residence for SCV holders will also have implications for children born to SCV holders. Starting July 1, 2023, any child born in Australia on or after July 1, 2022, to an SCV holder may automatically acquire Australian citizenship at birth. Children meeting these circumstances can apply for evidence of citizenship from July 1, 2023.

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