Kiwis who moved to Australia before 2001 are being urged to apply for citizenship in the country now – before it’s too late.
A law that allows them easier access to citizenship is set to expire in October and may not be rolled over.
The law allows Kiwis who were residents in Australia on or before February 26, 2001 to apply for citizenship as permanent residents.
Kiwis who arrived after that date have to first apply for permanent residency before applying for citizenship, putting them in competition with skilled workers from all over the world.
Australian residency and citizenship confers access to many social services inaccessible to Kiwis who arrived after 2001, who are deemed “temporary” visa holders.
“The crux of it is that if you are already deemed to be a permanent resident it is much easier to become a citizen,” immigration lawyer Jackson Taylor said.
The people applying for permanent residency from other parts of the world are likely to be qualified migrants filling skill shortages in Australia, and will thus have an easier ride than many Kiwis, Taylor said.
“Protecting Special Category Visa Holders” Facebook page admin Morgan Blake said up to 200,000 Kiwis in Australia could be affected.
He is urging Kiwis who are eligible to apply before October when they could lose access.
The 2007 legislative instrument that allows that treats Kiwis who were residents before 2001 as permanent residents is set to expire on October 1, and while Taylor expects it will be extended he thinks those eligible should apply to be safe.
“I think it’s probably 95 per cent likely that it will be extended. But immigration in today’s environment is very hard to predict.”
“If they’ve got access now I would encourage everyone to take it now. You just never know in this environment.”
Blake agreed that the law will probably be extended, but said Kiwis in Australia should take nothing for granted.
“The thing is Kiwis have a natural instinct to wonder what will happen, because there’s been a 17-year history of reducing rights, and also not explaining what they are going to do.
The Australian Department of Border Control and Immigration has been approached for comment.
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