Kia ora! It’s almost Xmas and the end of another year. My, how time flies the older one gets.

It’s also that time of the year where many will consider future plans. Maybe set new goals, perhaps wipe the slate clean in our minds and lives, and take a deep breath hoping for a great or even better year ahead.

For some, the question of citizenship pops up every so often or sits in the back of their mind as something that must be looked into. Barriers to applying for citizenship can also be a hindrance. Some may have tried already and found the process too difficult or stressful. Some may be afraid to try or some may simply choose not to for personal reasons.

One thing is for sure however, it is always better to be armed with the correct and most up to date information so decisions, whatever they may be, can be educated and informed decisions. After all, the future of an individual, family and future generations depends on this very important aspect.

Rules are changing constantly and in the past 20 years significant changes have gone by largely unnoticed, until recently.

Suddenly, citizenship for particularly long term New Zealanders and British citizens has taken an enormous turn of events. The nations that were once considered close in ties have become shunned to varying degrees by gradual changes to the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) and the Citizenship Act 2007 (Cth). New Zealanders and British are substantially the highest group of non-citizens who have been living in Australia for decades. Kiwis have been topping the detention centre rates month after month since changes to section 501 were brought in, in December 2014 as well as the vigorous enforcement of section 116.

As a NZ/Australian dual citizen and activist for almost 5 years I have come to know many of the unusual and unjustified implications that affect fellow New Zealanders.

Some may believe New Zealanders are lucky, and on the surface it would appear to be so.

After all, who else can get a visa that allows a person to work and live indefinitely? We are even allowed Medicare and recently we dodged the bullet of having to pay international student fees – mind you, that was thanks to our new PM Jacinda Adern finally making a bold stance, much to Bill English’s disgust!

The problem is however, the SCV is a temporary visa only….for life. This is the catch. This so called privilege can then take a nasty turn in the lives of individuals and families, including future generations.

I personally advocate for fellow Kiwis to apply for citizenship if they have considerable links to Australia such as work, family, home, investments, length of time living in Australia. There is caution however, that must be taken given the current thresholds of the character test.

The dilemma is some may find they qualify to apply for citizenship, however, they can also risk having their visas cancelled in the process should they fail the character test or worse, be deemed a risk. No criminal offences necessary!

It is frightening for any whanau/family to go through this ordeal and it pays to seek proper legal advice before proceeding. I strongly recommend not taking advice from anyone who isn’t a qualified registered migration agent. It may be free advice, but that could severely cost families down the track.