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New Zealanders who live in Australia for four years can now become citizens

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New Zealanders who live in Australia for four years can now become citizens from July 1, under new changes.
New Zealanders who live in Australia for four years can now become citizens

The Australian Government will make it easier for New Zealanders who live in Australia to become Australian citizens.

From 1 July, any New Zealander who arrived in Australia after 2001 and has lived here for four years will be able to apply to become a citizen.

Hundreds of thousands of people currently in Australia on visas are expected to be affected by the change.

Background

Australians and New Zealanders can live and work in each country without application.

However, the pathways to permanent residency and citizenship are different in each country.

Australians in New Zealand can become permanent residents after two years. But following a change in 2001, New Zealanders in Australia must apply for permanent residency through the same pathway as people from any other country, even if they have lived in Australia for decades. There are about 670,000 New Zealanders in Australia and 70,000 Australians in New Zealand.

Controversy

This barrier to citizenship has been controversial for two main reasons.

One is that New Zealanders on temporary visas are largely unable to access some forms of welfare payment.

Another is that Australia has the power to deport any New Zealander (or any temporary visa holder) who receives a prison sentence of at least one year for a crime. This has resulted in authorities deporting people despite their having lived most of their lives in Australia and having minimal connection to New Zealand.

The changes

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said many New Zealanders on temporary visas were “raising families, working and building their lives in Australia… I am proud to offer the benefits that citizenship provides.”

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he was “pleased” by the announcement.

“New Zealand has long sought a fair go… and arrangements that are reciprocal to what is offered to Australians living in New Zealand,” he said.

Opposition

In an interview on the ABC, Shadow Immigration Minister Dan Tehan said the Coalition agreed “in principle” with the move but but expressed concern about its potential consequences for housing and welfare.

“We have a much more generous welfare system here in Australia than they do in New Zealand. So over time, we might see New Zealand citizens coming here to access our welfare system. That has a cost,” Tehan said.

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