FAQs – Citizenship for NZ Citizens

Disclaimer:

The information contained on this site is only to be used as general information about the recent changes for New Zealand citizens and their direct pathway to Australian citizenship.

The information provided does not cover every type of situation or scenario and should not be taken as individual professional advice.

Migration and Citizenship legislation is subject to change at any time and often without forewarning. The most up to date information should always be checked on the official Australian Government website, the Department of Home Affairs.

Before proceeding with an application of any kind we always recommend seeking professional and personalised advice about your circumstances in order to protect yourself and your best interests.

Australian Citizenship of 1 July 2023

1. What has changed?

On 22 April 2023, the Australian Government announced updates to the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.

Starting 1 July 2023, all New Zealand citizens holding a Special Category Visa (SCV), subclass TY444—including those previously classified as ‘non-protected SCV holders’ or ‘non-eligible New Zealand citizens’—were recognised as permanent residents for the purpose of applying for Australian citizenship. This recognition was retroactively applied from July 1, 2022.

Before this change, New Zealand citizens in this group needed to obtain a permanent visa to qualify for Australian citizenship.

Additionally, from 1 July 2022, any children born in Australia to a New Zealand parent from the ‘non-protected SCV holder’ group holding a TY444 visa are now Australian citizens from birth. This change eliminates the previous requirement for these children to reside in Australia for the first 10 years of their lives to qualify for citizenship by their 10th birthday.

2. What is the RESIDENCE requirement for New Zealanders?

The residence requirements that you must meet at the time of application are:

  • living in Australia on a valid visa immediately 4 years before applying
  • hold a permanent visa or an SCV for the last 12 months immediately before applying
  • MUST NOT have been absent (overseas) for a total of 90 days or more in the 12 months immediately before applying
  • MUST NOT have been absent for a total of 365 days or more in the 4 years immediately before applying

Children who are aged 16 or 17 years of age would generally need to meet these residency requirements

Children who are 15 years old or younger do not need to meet the residency requirements

The Residence Calculator is a tool that can be used to check residency requirements.

Note: Your travel history dates must be accurate if using the Residence Calculator. You may request your movement records from the Department of Home Affairs.

3. What is the GOOD CHARACTER requirement?

Anyone who is 18 years and older must be of ‘good character‘.

Current policy on character states that:

‘Good character’ refers to the enduring moral qualities of a person, and is an indication of whether an applicant is likely to uphold and obey the laws of Australia and the other commitments made through the pledge should they be approved for citizenship.

Enduring moral qualities of a person is said to encompass:

  • Characteristics which have been demonstrated over a long period of time
  • Distinguishing right from wrong
  • Behaving in an ethical manner, conforming to the rules and values of Australian society

Policy provides the following direction to decision-makers when looking at whether an individual is of ‘good character’:

An applicant of good character would:

1. Respect and abide by the law in Australia and other countries;

2. Be honest and financially responsible (for example, pay their taxes, and not be in dishonest receipt of public funds);

3. Be truthful and not practise deception or fraud in their dealings with the Australian Government, or other governments and organisations, for example:

  • providing false personal information
  • concealment of convictions that could lead to the cancellation or refusal of a visa or citizenship
  • involvement in Centrelink or Australian Tax Office fraud
  • giving false names and/or addresses to police
  • not be violent, involved in drugs or unlawful sexual activity
  • not cause harm to others through their conduct (for example recklessness exhibited by negligent or drink driving, excessive speeding or driving without licence or insurance);
  • not be associated with others who are involved in anti-social or criminal behaviour, or others who do not uphold and obey the laws of Australia;
  • not have evaded immigration control or assisted others to do so, or been involved in the illegal movement of people;
  • not have committed, been involved with or associated with war crimes, crimes against humanity and/or genocide;
  • not be the subject of any extradition order or other international arrest warrant;
  • not be involved in or providing assistance to, or reasonably suspected of being involved in or providing assistance to, terrorist organisations or acts of terrorism overseas or in Australia; and
  • not be the subject of any verifiable information causing character doubts.

If you have received a NATURAL JUSTICE LETTER requesting an “Invitation to Comment” on your application for citizenship in relation to your character it is extremely important to respond appropriately. If you require advice and/or assistance, please book in a consultation to speak with one of our experts.

It is also important to note that if your application is refused, you may be able to seek review of the decision to refuse Australian citizenship on character grounds through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT).

4. Knowledge of Australia and Language requirements (Test and Interview)

Most applicants aged between 18 and 59 years old will be required to demonstrate a basic knowledge of Australia and attend an interview in person.

The citizenship test assesses an applicant’s English language skills and their knowledge about Australia and Australian citizenship.

In some cases, applicants aged 16 or 17 years old or who are aged 60 years and over may be required to have an interview but will not be required to sit the test.

Australian Citizenship: Our Common Bond​ is a booklet that provides a person with everything they need to prepare for the test.

We do not endorse or recommend any other resources or apps that claim to help you to pass the citizenship test.

Preparing for the test

5. What does CLOSE AND CONTINUING LINK TO AUSTRALIA mean?

The Department of Home Affairs must be satisfied that you are likely to live or continue to live in Australia, or maintain a close and continuing link with Australia whilst overseas.

Citizenship requires a long-term commitment to Australia and having close and continuing association with family or other social relationships in Australia, may not be sufficient to be considered as having a close and continuing link to Australia on its own.

When the Department assess your close and continuing link to Australia, they will consider a range of variables, including:

  • if you rent or own property and where this property is located
  • if you have high value items and where these are located, such as a house, property, car or bank account
  • any commitments or ties to Australia, such as your source of income, employment situation, family situation, and schooling arrangements
  • your travel into and out of Australia, your reason for travel, the number of times you travelled into and out of Australia, and how long you were in each place
  • participation in the Australian community, such as being part of community groups, clubs or charities that provides services or opportunities
  • if you have close Australian permanent resident or citizen family members who intend to reside in Australia, such as a spouse, de facto partner or child/ren.

For information on the supporting documents the Department require, see Evidence of close and continuing link to Australia.

 

6. What types of applications cannot be approved?

In addition to the good character requirements, the Citizenship Act 2007 deals specifically with criminal offences and provides that an application must be refused in a number of circumstances, including the following:

1. Where there are any pending criminal matters;

2. Within 2 years of having had a 12 month custodial sentence imposed;

3. Within 10 years of having had more than one 12 month custodial sentence;

4. Within a parole period; and/or

5. Where a good behaviour bond or other security has been imposed and not yet discharged.

The Instructions also direct decision makers to consider any mitigating factors which can be taken into account to enable a person to found to be of good character.

Factors in the Instructions include:

  • The length of time which has passed between any offence committed and the application for citizenship;
  • The applicant’s age at the time of any offence, and any extenuating circumstances;
  • The applicant’s behaviour since completing any prison term or since the cessation of any obligations to the court;
  • The applicant’s remorse;
  • The applicant’s lifestyle, including being in long term employment, having a stable family life and/or any community involvement; and
  • Evidence from referees.

In the Instructions, decision makers are instructed to take a holistic approach by looking at an applicant’s behaviour over a long period of time, weigh up all relevant factors, and apply “community standards”, to decide whether a person is of good character.

 

7. Why did the laws change?

After twenty-two long years, the Australian Government have finally acknowledged that New Zealand shares a special bond with Australia and that the direct pathway to citizenship is fair, more reciprocal and contributes to a far more inclusive migration system.

For the purposes of Australian citizenship requirements, as of 1 July 2023 NZ citizens will be considered permanent residents which is also automatically backdated to 1 July 2022.

However, it is important to note that under the Migration Act, the SCV, subclass TY444 visa is still a temporary visa.

In essence, NZ citizens will effectively hold a temporary visa status under the Migration Act 1958 and permanent status under the Citizenship Act 2007, simultaneously.

It is also important to note that Eligible New Zealand citizens are not the same as all other NZ citizens as this group of NZ citizens are still eligible for other entitlements such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and certain Social Security payments.

We know this is very confusing but it is important to understand the variations and differences before making any decisions on what you are needing and hoping to achieve.

8. What if I used to live in Australia and want to return? Will I need to wait for 4 years?

There are always exeptions to the rules and each case should be assessed against the residency requirements in full.

Generally speaking you need to be in Australia for 4 years, but you can’t be overseas for no more than 12 months in that 4 year period.

For NZ citizens, this usually means returning to Australia for a minimum of 3 years to meet the 4 year requirement because any travel prior to the 4 year period counts as the start date to your residency.

Yes, it’s very confusing to explain!

As a rough example, if a NZ citizen lived in Australia from 2010 to 2020 then returned to Australia in August 2023, they would need to remain in Australia for at least 36 months in order to meet the 4 year requirement. So the earliest approximate date they could apply for Australian citizenship would be August-September 2026.

BUT if they travelled to Australia during the 2020-2023 period, those travel dates would reduce the waiting period.

Furthermore, if the NZ citizen’s first ever trip into Australia was August 2023 the earliest they could possibly apply is August 2027.

It’s always best to obtained your exact travel history and use the Residence Calculator to determine when you might be eligible.

9. Do the changes affect children born in Australia to NZ citizens?

From 1 July 2023 children born in Australia to a NZ parent on or after 1 July 2022 will be recognised as an Australian citizen at birth.

Children born in Australia prior to 1 July 2022 may be Australian citizens already. If they are, you can apply for their citizenship certificate.

If children are not Australian citizens at birth or on their 10th birthdays, they *may be able to be included on their parent’s citizenship application.

There has been some back and forth about whether these children need to apply for a TY444 visa beforehand. Our experience has been the Department has requested a child apply for the TY444 visa but then they granted citizenship before the visa was ever granted.

Under s? of the Migration Act, children are

Update: 01/01/2024

We have received requests from the Department of Home Affairs requiring children who are under 10 years of age, who were born in Australia and are being included on parent’s applications to hold a subclass TY444 visa. This means the child will need to apply for a NZ passport, NZ citizenship by descent and make an application for a subclass TY444 visa in order to be approved Australian citizenship.

10. Can NZ citizens have dual citizenship and do we need to apply for an Australian passport?

The answer is yes we will automatically have dual citizenship of both Australia and New Zealand because our countries allow for dual citizenship and yes, we are expected to apply for an Australian passport if we wish to travel.

Once a person becomes an Australian citizen we recommend that you apply for and travel on an Australian passport, however, you may also keep and travel on your NZ passport.

11. I hold citizenship of NZ and another country already. Do I need to let go of one of those citizenships to get Australian citizenship?

The answer will vary depending on how each country’s citizenship laws operate.

Australia and NZ allow dual citizenship but other countries may not. You would have to check with the other countries to find out what their laws are.

12. What if I hold a permanent visa already and it is about to expire, do I need to renew my visa?

At this stage, the changes have not been clear about how NZ citizens in these circumstances will be impacted. We recommend either not travelling overseas until your citizenship application has been approved or ensure you have a current resident return visa or permanent visa that is still active.

13. What if I have lodged a permanent visa application, can I still apply for citizenship on 1 July 2023?

We advise seeking professional advice as this is an individual situation which will be different for everybody.

In some cases it may be more beneficial for you to withdraw your application, but we would not recommend this course of action in all circumstances. In other cases it is definitely more beneficial to let your application continue to be processed.

14. Will I be eligible for all the Services Australia payments (Centrelink) or the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)?

As far as we are aware, the changes have not extended eligibility to Services Australia payments or NDIS.

However, we know that once people are granted Australian citizenship, they have immediate access to all services and entitlements and are no longer subject to any waiting periods such as the ‘Newly arrived resident’s waiting period‘ (NARWP)

 

15. Do the changes apply to NZ Permanent residents?

The announcements specifically refer to current TY444, SCV holders only.

16. I have been granted a permanent visa recently, can I also apply for Australian citizenship on 1 July 2023?

If you have been a permanent resident for at least 12 months and meet all the residency requirements, you may be eligible to apply. If you have a subclass 189 (NZ Stream visa) you are not required to wait the 12 months. For all others, the 12 month residency requirements still apply.

17. Do the changes apply to subclass 461 visa holders?

There are no changes to the subclass 461 visa holders. They however, must be very careful because if their NZ partner becomes an Australian citizen, they may not be able to apply for another 461 visa and would likely have to apply for a partner visa. A formal assessment and professional advice is recommended in these instances.

18. What if I want to travel before 1 July 2023? Will that affect my application?

Provided you meet the residency requirements, and meet other requirements, travelling in most circumstances will be fine.

19. I have lodged a subclass 189 application and am still awaiting a response, can I seek a refund?

Refunds are only ever paid in limited circumstances and it is unlikely refunds will be given in this situation.

However, if you wish to try to request a refund you may do so by completing the Form 1424 Refund Request.

A Quick Guide about the Australian Citizenship Application Process

21. Which New Zealand citizens can apply for Australian citizenship on 1 July 2023?

New Zealand citizens who:

  • hold a TY444 visa and
  • who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001
  • and have been living in Australia for 4 years may be able to apply directly for Australian citizenship
  • who meet the residence requirements
  • those who are Protected SCV holders/eligible NZ citizens can still apply as normal

If you are unsure, you could try using the Residence Calculator to check whether you are eligible or request a copy of your movement records.

All NZ citizens will still also need to meet other criteria such as residency and character requirements and some will need to pass the Citizenship Test regardless of when they arrived in Australia.

22. Is there an income requirement, age limit or health requirement?

No, none of these are required for Australian citizenship as these criteria apply to certain visa applciations only.

 

23. How long do I have to be in Australia before I can apply for Australian citizenship?

All TY444 visa holders will be able to apply for Australian citizenship provided they meet the 4 year residence requirements along with other eligibility requirements.

24. What is the cost for an Australian citizenship application?

Costs for application fees vary depending on the type of citizenship application and may increase as of 1 July 2023.

Applicants who are 60 years and over or 17 years and younger pay lower fees.

Exemptions and concessions are also available in certain circumstances.

Fees can range from $0 to $540 for citizenship by conferral applications.

See the Citizenship Fees table (Form 1298i) for all current citizenship fees.

Form 1298i

Professional fees to get a professional such as ourselves to do the application for you will depend on your situation. We cannot provide quotes without doing an assessment which requires a consultation booking first (assessment fees apply).

25. What if my passport has expired? Do I need a new passport first?

Updated passports that are current are not required for citizenship purposes.

They are however needed for the purposes of applying for a visa.

26. How long does it take to get citizenship?

Citizenship by conferral can vary in processing times and can sometimes take longer, depending on a variety of factors.

 

 

27. Is it an easy process?

The process varies from person to person and depends on the complexity of the case as well as a person’s ability to use technology, provide correct information and have good written communication skills.

Applications can range from completing all the application requirements, including making the correct applications, filling out the correct forms, paying the correct fees, monitoring, updating, corresponding with the Department of Home Affairs or other stakeholders, preparing submissions, applying for waivers of various types (if need be) collecting and providing unique types of evidence and responding to the Department’s requests.

As experts in this area we work extremely hard at making sure everything is done correctly and to the highest quality and standard because we know this is the difference between whether an application is refused or approved.

28. Will NZ citizens still need police checks from New Zealand and Australia?

Not necessarily although we strongly recommend police checks should be applied for and checked before applying in order to be confident the correct information has been provided.

If a NZ citizen has resided in any other country for 90 days or more since turning 18 years old they may be required to apply for a police check from that country also.

29. Can I include children who are not my biological or adopted children on my application?

The answer will vary depending on whether the applicant has legal guardianship or not and whether this can be proven. These cases need to have a full assessment before advice can be given.

30. Can children be included on a citizenship application with a parent?

Children who are eligible to apply may be included on a parent’s application up the the age of 15 years old. From the age of 16 years old they must then apply on their own.

31. If I prepare my own citizenship application, can I get advice and guidance from Morunga Migration?

Yes, we can provide guidance and advice for you through our online Zoom (video call) consultation process (Consultation fees apply).

32. Can I just get Morunga Migration to do my citizenship application for me and what is the cost?

Yes, we can assess, prepare, lodge, liaise, monitor and manage your citizenship application from start to finish.

Our professional fees will depend on your situation, circumstances and what type of help you require and what type of work we will need to do.

We cannot provide quotes without doing an assessment which requires a consultation booking first (assessment fees apply).

 

33. Does Morunga Migration offer payment plans or discounts?

Our payment requirements are 50% deposit and 50% due prior to lodgement.

We offer discounts for couples and families as well as clients who pay 100% upfront.

Again, we cannot provide quotes or costings without an assessment which first requires a consultation booking (fees apply).

34. How can I get someone to help me?

Applications are mostly done online by creating an IMMI Account through the Department of Home Affairs website.

Alternatively, we can also assist you with your application from start to finish.

If you wish to seek our assistance, you will need to first book an assessment and we will then provide you with a quote, Service Agreement and we will provide advice on what we will need from you.

We cannot provide quotes without doing an assessment which requires a consultation booking first (assessment fees apply).

 

35. What documents are needed for Australian citizenship?

Documents vary on the type of application but usually include at the very least these documents:

  • Evidence of identity
  • Evidence of residence
  • Evidence of citizenship
  • Evidence of name changes
  • Evidence of entry and travel history
  • Identity Declaration and photograph
  • Police checks

36. I am ready to apply for Australian citizenship, what is the first step?

Seeking assistance from us…

You will need to first book an assessment with us. We will then provide you with a quote, Service Agreement and provide advice on what will be needed from you.

We are unable to provide quotes without doing an assessment first which requires a consultation booking first (Fees apply).

Doing your own application…

If you wish to apply on your own without any assistance from us, you will need to create an IMMI Account and follow the prompts.

The steps you have to take will vary from person to person.

You can also check the Department of Home Affairs website for up-to-date information on eligibility criteria and more.

37. What if I want to travel before 1 July 2023? Will that affect my application?

Provided you meet the residency requirements, and meet other requirements, travelling in many circumstances should be fine.

38. What if I have a criminal record?

Applicants who are 18 years and over must be of ‘good character’. In citizenship applications, these usually refers to the term ‘enduring moral qualities of a person’. However, applicants of any age may not be approved citizenship in certain circumstances relating to their criminal offences.

Each case is different so it is important to have your situation assessed before ever making any applications to the Department of Home Affairs.

Criteria for character requirements is also different from the character requirements for visas. It pays to seek professional advice and have an assessment.

 

Our Recommendations to Get Ready for the 1st July 2023 are:

39. Be cautious about whose advice you follow

We all love to help one another as it’s in our very nature.

However, a gentle word of caution as we will see many fellow Kiwis coming out saying how ‘easy it is’ to do your own citizenship application.

We will talk more on this in due course as there’s a lot to unpack on this topic!

40. Request your movement/travel records

Apply online

  • You will need your passport and proof of any name changes
  • Cost: No charge
  • Processing time: Up to 30 days

If you have difficulties we are happy to assist you. Contact us

41. List countries visited for the past 10 years

You will be asked to provide the countries visited, dates travelled and purpose of travel such as:

  • Visit family
  • Work
  • Holiday
  • Other (you can write your reason)

42. Apply for Identity Documents

If you do not have original copies of your identity documents we recommend applying for these in advance.

Applications for New Zealand birth/marriage certificates can be made online, over the phone or in person.

  • Order a Marriage Certificate over the phone call +64 9 339 0852
  • Order a Birth Certificate online
  • Cost: Marriage Certificates are $33 NZD and Birth Certificates range from $20 – $35 NZD
  • Standard post is free
  • Overseas courier costs to Australia is $15 NZD
  • Processing time: 1-2 weeks

If you have difficulties we are happy to assist you. Contact us

43. Apply for a New Zealand criminal record check for immigration purposes

Apply online

  • Click on ‘Individual Request’ to begin the application process.
  • You must sign and date the ‘Proof of Signature’ Form (AKA Authority to Release Form) on the same day that you lodge your application and ensure your signature matches the signature in your New Zealand ID e.g. *New Zealand passport, New Zealand driver’s licence, an overseas passort that is current.
  • Be sure to include all possible names including shortened names, nicknames, aliases and previous names known by.
  • You will need to complete all Request Details sections and upload either a:
    • *New Zealand Passport or
    • Overseas Passport or
    • New Zealand Driver’s Licence or
    • New Zealand Firearm Licence or
    • Statutory Declaration if you do not have any of the required valid ID documents
  • IMPORTANT: At step 3 under ‘Report’, you MUST click ‘YES’ to receive a full record of your criminal convictions held by the Ministry of Justice’s computer systems.
  • *A New Zealand passport may still be used if it has not expired more than 2 years. A cancelled passport cannot by used.
  • Cost: No charge
  • Processing time: 1-3 business days

In some instances you may be requested to sign and provide a Consent to Exchange Criminal Record Check Information with a New Zealand police check that is less than 3 months old.

44. In some cases we recommend applying for an Australian Federal Police National Police Certificate

Apply online for a National Police Certificate

  • Be sure to include all possible names including shortened names, nicknames, aliases and previous names known by
  • You will need to upload 100 points of ID e.g. current passport and driver’s licence
  • You will need your address history for the past 10 years including approximate dates you moved into each address
  • You need to select ‘Purpose of Check 33 – Immigration/Citizenship – For supply to the Department of Home Affairs’
  • You will receive a digital copy via email and you may request a hard copy at no extra charge be posted to your address
  • Cost: $42.67 which includes the 1.6% surcharge
  • Processing time: 1 – 20 days

45. If applicable, apply for your overseas police clearances

If you have resided in countries other than New Zealand or Australia for periods longer than 90 days since turning 18 years old, you may be asked to provide a police check from that country.

This process varies from country to country.

Please go to the Department of Home Affairs website for guidance and select the country you need to apply from.

46. Family details

You will be asked to provide various details of your immediate family members including:

  • parents
  • children
  • partner
  • siblings

VEVO FAQs

What is a subclass TY444 visa?

Since 1 September 1994, all non-citizens in Australia have been required to hold a valid visa. As a result, the subclass TY444 Special Category Visa was introduced specifically for New Zealand citizens.

Under the 1973 Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, New Zealand citizens who hold New Zealand passports and present no health or character concerns can visit, live and work in Australia indefinitely and without restrictions.

Under the Australian Migration Act 1958, the TY444 visa is a temporary visa which never converts to a permanent visa, regardless of how long New Zealand citizens have lived in Australia or how much they may have contributed in taxes.

The TY444 is the only visa of its kind in Australia.

My VEVO says 'Single Entry Only'. Does that mean I can only enter Australia once?

TY444 visas are issued for once only entries.

Each time you leave Australia your TY444 ceases to exist.

Each time you re-enter Australia a new single entry TY444 is issued.

Why does my VEVO say I was granted the TY444 the last time I arrived into Australia, but I've been living here much longer?

TY444 visas cease to exist each time you leave Australia. A brand new TY444 is granted each time you re-enter Australia.

The VEVO check only ever provides the most recent visa a person holds including the date it was granted.

Why does my VEVO say I'm a 'Temporary Resident'?

The subclass TY444 visa is a temporary visa that is granted to New Zealand citizens. Under the Migration Act 1958, the TY444 visa is a temporary visa.

Because you are a New Zealand citizen who does not hold a permanent visa or are a dual Australian/New Zealand citizen you are recognised as a temporary resident only.

How to change my 'Temporary Resident' status?

If you are eligible, you need to either apply for a permanent visa or Australian citizenship.

 

How do I get an assessment?

We provide assessments for New Zealand citizens via a consultation process (fee applies).  Consultations can be booked via our online booking system.

How much does it cost?

It’s not possible to provide how much visas and/or citizenship applications cost as they vary in price, process, additional information required and complexity.

The Department has a list of application fees on it’s website but first you would need to know:

  1. What you need to apply for?
  2. Are you eligible to apply?
  3. Are you including family members?
  4. Are your family members eligible to apply or be included?
  5. Are there any major risk factors involved?
  6. Is more than one application needed?
  7. Is it a paper application or an online application?
  8. Are there better options available?
  9. Has your status as a New Zealand citizen been assessed fully?
  10. Are you aware of the implications of lodging applications and the ongoing affects that may have?
  11. Are your circumstances likely to change and will that impact your application?

For more information please visit our Facebook page which has a variety of videos and posts we made especially for fellow New Zealanders to understand the basics of how migration works for us in Australia.

First step to getting help is to reach out to us

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