Citizenship changes cost NZ family dearly

Australian passport (Photo: 123rf.com)

Please note

Nick Xenophon Team wants a comprehensive review of higher education, effectively preventing the proposed increase to university fees from being passed by Parliament before the end of the year.

The citizenship changes announced on 20 April 2017 were struck down by the Senate on 18 October 2017. However, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton plans to introduce revised changes to come into effect on 1 July 2018.


Citizenship changes cost NZ family dearly

31 October 2017

Phil Pennington

A New Zealand expat family has been left thousands of dollars out of pocket by the Australian government’s flip-flops over changes to citizenship and university fees.

The changes have also left the Melbourne-based Britzman family’s teenage son in limbo about whether he will be able to attend university.

Medical worker Louise Britzman and her husband paid $2,300 in April to sponsor their son Charley, 17, for citizenship.

Just a week later, the federal government announced plans to extend the waiting time as a permanent resident for citizenship from one year to four years.

The government also proposed charging New Zealanders international student fees for university, removing student loan eligibility for permanent residents.

In combination, the changes would have prevented Charley from going to university for three years because of the cost.

“I had to withdraw the [citizenship] application,” Mrs Britzman said.

“I put together a letter that outlined exactly why I had made the mistake … Every time I tried to arrange my son’s future and his education, there was a new policy that was being touted.”

When she asked for an application fee refund, the response was a blunt refusal.

Then last week, both the citizenship and tuition fee proposals were blocked by opposition parties.

“I will have to apply for [citizenship] again,” Mrs Britzman said. “That’ll be another $2500 it’s gone up to now.”

Worse than the financial hit was the impact of a year of uncertainty on her 17-year-old son.

“He’s been thinking, ‘What’s the use of really working hard [at school] because I can’t go anyway until I’m 21 because otherwise I’ll have to pay international fees,'” Mrs Britzman said.

Mrs Britzman said he just doesn’t know what his future holds.

Expatriates were being kept in the dark by government departments that were “gagged” from giving them information about incoming policy changes, she said.

[Read the Radio NZ article].

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