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Australia to Expedite Citizenship Pathway for New Zealand stream Skilled Independent (subclass 189) Visa Holders

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​From 1 January 2023, New Zealand stream Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa holders who have previously held a Special Category (subclass 444) visa will have the commencement of their permanent residence period for Australian citizenship purposes backdated to 1 January 2022. This also applies to their New Zealand citizen family members who hold a Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa.

The general residence requirement for Australian citizenship by conferral is set out in the Australian Citizenship Act 2007. To meet the general residence requirement an applicant must be lawfully present in Australia for 4 years, including 12 months as a permanent resident, immediately before the date of application.

The backdating of permanent residence means that, from 1 January 2023, New Zealand stream Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa holders are eligible to apply for Australian citizenship by conferral immediately following visa grant, without needing to hold this visa for 12 months.

Before applying, applicants should confirm their eligibility.

The backdating of permanent residence also affects children born in Australia to certain Special Category (subclass 444) visa holders. Children born in Australia between 1 January 2022 and 30 June 2023, before the grant of their parent’s New Zealand stream Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa, and where this visa was also granted between these dates, may retrospectively acquire Australian citizenship automatically by birth. Children who meet these circumstances can apply for evidence of citizenship.

These changes support the close ties between our two nations, and the positive contribution New Zealand citizens make to Australia.

The Government is considering future migration and citizenship pathways for New Zealand citizens in Australia. Further information will be provided in due course.​

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