What is the change? Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Friday that Australia will provide a streamlined path to citizenship for tens of thousands of New Zealand nationals living in Australia.

What does the change mean? New Zealanders who arrived in Australia between 26 February 2001 and 19 February 2016, have lived in the country for five consecutive years and who have received earnings equal to or greater than the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold will be able to apply for permanent residence and, if eligible, citizenship.

  • Implementation timeframe: 1 July 2017.
  • Visas/permits affected: Special Category Visas (subclass 444).
  • Who is affected: New Zealanders holding Special Category Visas who have lived in Australia for five years and meet the income threshold and other citizenship requirements.
  • Next steps: Beginning 1 July 2017, a new pathway to Australian permanent residency will be implemented through the Skilled Independent category of Australia’s General Skilled Migration (GSM) scheme. Once qualifying New Zealanders have obtained Australian permanent residence, they may be able to apply for Australian citizenship if they meet eligibility requirements.

Background: Turnbull announced the citizenship programme Friday after meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. Eligibility requirements include having five consecutive years of residence in Australia immediately prior to submitting an application; income tax returns establishing taxable income at or above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (currently A$53,900) for the years in question; and satisfaction of Australia’s health, character and security checks.

Applications will be accepted beginning 1 July 2017. The programme is only available to New Zealanders who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 (when the Australian Government restricted benefits available to New Zealanders in Australia) and on or before 19 February 2016. Those who have yet to arrive in Australia are not covered by the streamlined citizenship programme. The Australian Government estimates that between 60,000 and 70,000 people will be eligible.

BAL Analysis: While the new programme does not benefit New Zealanders who have not yet arrived in Australia, it will provide an easier path to permanent residence and citizenship for tens of thousands who have arrived since 2001.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact

MARN: 9683856

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