Upcoming Changes for New Zealand Citizens Applying for Australian Citizenship

Are you a New Zealand Citizen Considering Applying for Australian Citizenship? 


Up until recently, the majority of New Zealand citizens living in Australia faced a lengthy and expensive path to obtaining Australian permanent residency and citizenship. While the Special Category Visa (subclass 444) provides New Zealand citizens with somewhat unrestricted travel in and out of Australia, many rights and benefits only come with Australian citizenship.

However, on 22 April 2023 the Australian Government announced that from 1 July 2023 there will be a direct pathway for certain New Zealand citizens to apply for Australian citizenship. This will mean that eligible New Zealand citizens will no longer be required to spend the time and money applying for permanent residency prior to becoming a citizen.

From 1 July 2023, New Zealand Citizens in Australia on a Special Category Visa will be considered as permanent residents for the purposes of applying for Australian citizenship. For applicants who held a Special Category Visa before 1 July 2022, the commencement date of their permanent residence will be backdated to 1 July 2023.


Children Born in Australia

Children born in Australia to New Zealand Citizens holding a Special Category Visa will also benefit under the new changes. Eligible children born from 1 July 2023 may automatically acquire Australian citizenship.

Citizenship Eligibility Requirements

New Zealand citizens applying for Australian citizenship will still need to satisfy the general eligibility criteria. These are outlined in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth). While the criteria are varying, and there are exceptions, generally applicants must satisfy the following:


  1. Residence requirement

When applying for Australian citizenship, generally applicants must have lived in Australia for four years, including 12 months as a permanent resident.

Applicants must also have not spent more than 90 days outside of Australia in the 12 months prior to applying for citizenship, and not more than 12 months in the 4 years prior to applying for citizenship.


  1. Character requirement

An important eligibility criteria for applicants for citizenship is the character requirement. Applicants must be found to be of ‘good character’, and matters such as recorded criminal convictions and evidence of dishonesty can be taken into consideration.


  1. Knowledge of Australia and Language requirement

Generally, applicants for citizenship must demonstrate basic knowledge of the English language, along knowledge of Australia and an understanding of what it means to become an Australian citizen.

The majority of applicants are asked to sit through an interview and a citizenship test as part of their application for citizenship.


  1. Close and continuing link to Australia

Applicants for citizenship must intend to continue living in Australia and/or maintain commitment and connection to Australia long-term.


The above information is general information only, and it is important that advice be sought about your specific circumstances. If you require advice or assistance with applying for Australian citizenship, or you are considering your options in relation to migrating to Australia, contact the experienced team at Miller Sockhill Lawyers on 07 5444 4750.