Changes to Australia’s citizenship criteria announced today has left New Zealanders living in the country feeling in limbo.
The Australian government announced a raft of changes to make getting citizenship even harder. Among them is the extension of the period migrants need to be permanent residents from one year to four. This could impact up to 60,000 New Zealanders over the next year.
New Zealander Renee Richardson has worked in Sydney for nearly five years. “If they push out that citizenship it stops me from getting a student loan and being able to study,” Ms Richarson said.
The 29-year-old who was hoping to become a citizen next year, won’t be able to until 2021. “Australians can go to New Zealand and get pretty much the same rights as a citizen… Here I am sort of having to stay in this sort of limbo position,” she said.
The Australian government told 1 NEWS that visa arrangements for New Zealanders were more generous than any other country, after they were asked how the change would affect Kiwis.
It went on to say the new rules will apply for all applications received for citizenship from today onwards. Other changes include a stricter English language test and proof of integration.
Australia prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said they were, “strengthening our multicultural society and strengthening our commitment to Australian values”.
[Watch the TVNZ video].