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Australia Relaxes Citizenship Rules for New Zealand Expats

Australia’s incredible natural beauty, coupled with its enviable climate makes it a popular expat destination for people around the world.

For example it has long been one of the top destinations for Brits seeking to leave behind the wet and dreary UK.

It’s also the natural choice for many New Zealanders looking for opportunities overseas.

Unfortunately allegedly “draconian” rules have meant that expat life for Kiwis in Australia has been tough.

Most New Zealanders arrive to work, where they are required to pay taxes into the national kitty. These taxes help to fund the healthcare system, schools, financial aid programs and more.

Sadly, at the same time as paying into the Australian system, many Kiwis have found themselves excluded from the benefits of this system.

For example they are generally prevented from voting, from accessing hardship funds and sometimes healthcare benefits too.

Understandably this has led to rather a lot of frustration among the resident New Zealand expat population who feel they are paying just as much as native Australians but without experiencing the same level of benefits.

Now, however, the Australian government has signalled that a change could be on the horizon which would allow up to an estimated 100,000 Kiwi expats to gain residency and citizenship, thus opening up the doors to the same benefits enjoyed by Aussies.

Following the announcement there was general approval from expats currently living in Australia, many of whom should shortly find that they are able to access a range of life-changing services, essentially making them “bone fide” Australian residents rather than the “second citizens” many of them feel like.

It is worth noting, however, that concerns still exist. The newly proposed initiative still won’t apply to all New Zealanders. Many will be invalid due to circumstances so it seems likely that the policy will only enable roughly half of New Zealanders living and working in Australia to claim citizenship.

For example the new rules apply only to expats already living in Australia. Any expats who arrive from New Zealand in the future won’t be covered by the new legislation.

In addition to this there is further fine-print to the agreement. Eligible expats must also have been working in the country for a minimum of five years, and in that time must have reached an agreed earnings threshold.

Those New Zealanders who have failed to meet these requirements must continue on with “business as usual” and will sadly miss out on this exciting new prospect for a permanent life in Australia, together with all the new benefits that such a lifestyle can bring.

As a result this new policy has been deemed more of an “amnesty” than anything else; the Australian government looking to smooth tensions between hard-working and tax-paying expats rather than welcoming all qualified New Zealanders with open arms.

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