28 Apr 2017

Australia citizenship change does not affect NZers - PM

3:48 pm on 28 April 2017

A deal giving some New Zealanders easier access to Australian citizenship still stands after visa rule changes announced across the Tasman last week, the government has confirmed.

Australia's Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull at a recent press conference in Sydney.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull Photo: SAEED KHAN / AFP

The deal means New Zealanders on Australian 'special category' visas earning more than $53,900 a year for five years would become eligible for permanent residency, followed by citizenship eligibility a year later.

However, Australia proposed tightening its visa rules last week, raising concerns the agreement could be undermined.

In particular, the changes would mean a shift from citizenship requiring three years on any visa and one year on a permanent visa to four years on a permanent visa.

That would mean at least five years to get a permanent visa, then another four years to get citizenship.

However, Prime Minister Bill English confirmed today he had reassurance from Australia's leader Malcolm Turnbull the pathway for New Zealanders still stood and was separate from the announced changes.

A lobby group for New Zealanders in Australia, Oz Kiwi, said it was relieved the deal remained in place.

But spokesman Tim Gassin said many New Zealanders had still been caught up in the visa changes and the New Zealand government should seek clarification from Australia as to where those people stood.

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