Criticism of Australian citizenship change begins

by Ray Clancy on April 24, 2017

in Australia Immigration

Up to 100,000 people from New Zealand living and working in Australia could face a longer wait if they want to become Australian citizens as changes announced last week are set to affect them the most.

Tens of thousands of Kiwis who had already met income and character standards had been expected to use a streamlined pathway to citizenship that was announced last year by the Government that would allow applicants to first receive permanent residency then citizenship one year later.

But it is claimed that this has now been put into doubt with the citizenship changes meaning that all new applicants must have been living in Australia for at least four years.

According to Tim Gassin, chairman of expat lobby group Oz Kiwi, the changes will also have a negative impact on students from New Zealand studying in Australia.

‘Thousands of people here were thinking finally, after in some cases up to 16 years here, we’ll enjoy full rights in a bit over a year and are now being told you can wait four years and we’re going to put a whole lot of other requirements on it,’ said Gassin.

He warned that it often seemed as if Australian immigration officials and policy makers do not think about the fact that there are half a million odd New Zealanders living in Australia.

‘These things often get overlooked, and we end up in this sort of mess with these sort of changes announced and really the New Zealand Government on the back foot and us on the back foot trying to sort it out,’ he explained.

Meanwhile, one expat, Libby Shaw, has started a petition for the changes to be axed. The freelance writer, who has lived in Sydney since 2008, said she had been counting down the days until she could get her citizenship.

She had two and a half years to wait to get her permanent residency then one year before she was eligible for citizenship, but now she believes that under the changes she will have a seven-year wait.

Experts point out that the rules can affect what an expat who has permanent residency and is waiting to be eligible for citizenship can and cannot do. For example, permanent residents cannot get student loans, join the defence force, or vote in Australia. Non-citizens can also be deported if they commit a minor crime.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: