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A New Pathway to Australian Citizenship for Kiwis

Talks between Malcolm Turnbull and New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key, have resulted in the unveiling of a fantastic new plan to secure an easier pathway to citizenship for ‘tens of thousands’ of Kiwis living in Australia.

Under the news laws, set to come into effect next year, New Zealanders on Special Category Visas may be eligible to apply for permanent residency and later citizenship. In order to be eligible under the new plan, New Zealand citizens must have:

  • Arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 and before 20 February 2016;
  • Lived in Australia for five years or more immediately preceding the application;
  • Have earned an income above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold during qualifying period of their residence; and
  • Meet the health, character and security requirements.

The income requirement will mean that those who will be eligible under this pathway will have to meet the same income requirement as those who apply for the Temporary Work (Subclass 457) Visa. However, there may be limited exemptions to the income test requirement for particularly vulnerable New Zealand citizens.

The cost of a visa application under the new legislation will be AUD$3,600 per primary applicant, with an additional $AUD1,800 for partners and $AUD1,800 per dependent child over 18 or $AUD900 per child under 18. These fees are in line with the fees payable under the General Skilled Migration Program.

These new changes are expected to mitigate “the plight of New Zealanders living in Australia who have been in a particular category that hasn’t allowed them to become Australian citizens,” according to Key.

Very little was said during the conference about the messy politics concerning the deportation of New Zealand citizens, some of which have lived in Australia for most of their lives. Under legislation passed in 2014, Kiwis risk deportation if they have been sentenced to a year or more in prison. Prime Minister Key seemed bemused after a reporter questioned whether it was fair that “New Zealand-born but Australian-raised criminals” were sent back to their home country.

If you are a New Zealand citizen living in Australia and are interested in knowing you visa or citizenship eligibility, call the Migration Place today for a consultation.

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