The Australian Government has provided an accelerated pathway for New Zealanders to become Australian citizens. The move signifies the close bond between our two nations, and the positive contribution New Zealand citizens make to Australia.

From 1 January 2023, New Zealand stream Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa holders who have previously held a Special Category (subclass 444) visa, will have the commencement of their permanent residence period for Australian citizenship purposes backdated to 1 January 2022.

The backdating of permanent residence that has been announced means that, from 1 January 2023, New Zealanders that hold an Australian permanent residency are eligible to apply for Australian citizenship by conferral immediately following the visa grant, without needing to hold this visa for 12 months.

Who is eligible?

New Zealand stream Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa holders who have previously held a Special Category (subclass 444) visa are eligible. Before applying, applicants should confirm their general eligibility.

The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 outlines the standard residence requirement for obtaining Australian citizenship through conferral. To satisfy this requirement, an applicant must have been residing lawfully in Australia for 4 years, with at least one of those years as a permanent resident, prior to the date of their citizenship application.

Are family included?

Yes, the backdate also applies to their New Zealand citizen family members who hold a Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa.

The retroactive granting of permanent residence also applies to children born in Australia to certain holders of Special Category (subclass 444) visas. Children who were born in Australia between January 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023, before their parents obtained a New Zealand stream Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa which was also granted between these dates, may be able to acquire Australian citizenship automatically through birth. These children are eligible to apply for proof of citizenship.

The Government is evaluating potential options for future migration and citizenship for individuals who hold New Zealand citizenship but currently reside in Australia. Additional details will be made available at a later time.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.