We are often approached by New Zealanders, seeking Australian citizenship. The process for gaining citizenship can vary significantly for different people. It largely depends on whether you were present or settled in Australia on key dates:

It’s important to note that NZ citizens are automatically granted a Special Category visa Subclass 444 upon arrival to Australia.

If you were in Australia on or before 26 February 2001, you may be an eligible New Zealand citizen. If you are an eligible NZ citizen, then you can apply for Australian citizenship by conferral, without having to apply for permanent residency first.

You are an eligible NZ citizen if:

a. You were in Australia on 26 February 2001 at a Subclass 444 visa holder;

b. You were in Australia on a Subclass 444 visa in the 2 years immediate before 26 February 2001; or

c. You have a Centrelink certificate issued before 26 February 2001 showing you were living in Australia.

If you are not an eligible NZ citizen, you will need to first apply for permanent residency. There are 2 options that are uniquely available to NZ citizens:

1. For NZ citizens who visited or lived in Australia before 1 September 1994, you may be able to apply for a Resident return visa on the basis of previously holding an Australian permanent visa. The type of supporting evidence required will depend on your period of absence from Australia. All applicants need to show substantial ties of benefit to Australia – for example business ties, personal ties, employment ties and cultural ties. If you have been absent from Australia for 5 years or more, you will need to demonstrate compelling reasons for your absence. You will need to hold the Resident return visa for at least 12 months before applying for Australian citizenship. 

2. The Skilled Independent visa Subclass 189 in the New Zealand stream is only available to New Zealand citizens who started living in Australia on or before 19 February 2016. The general requirements for this visa are:

a. You were usually resident in Australia on or before 19 February 2016. That is, you were physically in Australia on that date, or you were absent for a short time for example due to holiday or business;

b. You can provide Australian Taxation Office (ATO) Notices of Assessment for the previous 5 financial years showing annual taxable income of at least AUD $53,900. There are limited exemptions that may apply including maternity leave and injury compensation;

c. You held a Subclass 444 visa for the 5 years;

d. You must satisfy health and character requirements.

Your family members (spouse, de facto partner and dependent children) can be included in this visa

The Subclass 189 visa in the NZ stream is extremely beneficial compared with other work visas. Some advantages include:

a. No age limit;

b. No formal English language testing;

c. No skills assessment of qualifications or work experience;

d. No points test;

e. No requirement for sponsorship by an employer;

f. Health waiver is available for any applicants with health conditions; and

h. The application fee is broken down into 2 stages, with the larger proportion due once the requirements have been assessed and the visa is ready to be granted.

After holding the Subclass 189 visa for 12 months, you can then apply for Australian citizenship.

If you would like to check on your eligibility for Australian citizenship or Australian permanent residency, please book a consultation by phoning (07) 5526 6869 or by email hp@swiftmigrationaustralia.com