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Australia to quickly grants citizenship to New Zealanders

Australia has announced plans to make it easier for hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders living in Australia to become Australian citizens.

From 1 July you can apply for citizenship if you have lived in Australia for more than 4 years and arrived after 2001. Also, to obtain citizenship, you no longer have to first apply for a green card. New Zealand has been pushing for reform since visa rules were tightened in 2001.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albaniz made the announcement on Saturday, the day before New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins’ visit. “We know that many New Zealanders come here on special visas to support their families, work and live in Australia.

Therefore, I am proud to offer the benefits of citizenship,” Mr. Albanese said in a statement. It is expected to affect up to 350,000 New Zealanders currently living in Australia. New Zealander Chris Hipkins, who will be visiting Brisbane on Sunday, hailed the change as “the biggest improvement in the rights of New Zealanders living in Australia in a generation”. It also “restores the Kiwi rights Kiwis had in Australia before they were revoked in 2001,” he said in a statement.

New Zealand Prime Minister Chris Hipkins shakes hands with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese ahead of a bilateral meeting at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, February 7, 2023 Australian PM Anthony Albanese (R) announced the reform a day ahead of meeting his New Zealand counterpart Chris Hipkins New Zealand has long been calling for these changes since visa rules for their nationals living in Australia were toughened more than two decades ago.

In 2001, a special category visa was introduced restricting New Zealanders’ access to certain health and welfare support. It also required them to apply for permanent residency before seeking citizenship an often lengthy and costly process. New Zealander Scott Bowley says he and his Swedish wife, who live in Melbourne with their two children, were happy to hear the news overnight. The changes mean he and his family would have access to government assistance such as unemployment benefits after becoming citizens. “It takes away a level of uncertainty and if you do fall on hard times, you can lean on the government a bit more,” he tells the BBC. He says his second child, who was born last December, will now also automatically be entitled to Australian citizenship.

Fellow New Zealander Nicole Westrupp, who works at a children’s hospital in Melbourne, says she had given up trying to get permanent residency due to her medical role being considered too niche and the thousands of dollars it cost to apply. “There was no path for me until now,” she tells the BBC. The changes mean she can now get access to extra support if needed, such as housing grants, but it also means she is eligible to vote. “Until now, I couldn’t vote and I was passionate about voting. I live here and pay taxes, but I can’t influence who runs the country.” Australian authorities say the change puts New Zealanders living in Australia on an equal footing with Australians living in New Zealand. There are currently around 670,000 New Zealanders living in Australia, of which around 70,000 Australians live in New Zealand.

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