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No need to worry about Australian citizenship: Cook Islanders told

Posted On: Tuesday, 18 April 2017

RAROTONGA, 18 APRIL 2017 (COOK ISLANDS NEWS) --- Cook Islanders who have been living in Australia for more than 17 years do not have to worry that their eligibility for citizenship there is being phased out. The law affecting those with New Zealand citizenship who arrived in Australia before 2001 runs out in October and experts had voiced concerns it may not be rolled over. However, the New Zealand High Commission in the Cook Islands says Australia has no intention of changing the current situation. The High Commission says that according to Australia’s Department of Immigration and Border Protection, Canberra has confirmed that:

-   The Australian government has no intention of altering the policy settings relating to New Zealand citizens covered by the 2001 transitional arrangements.
-  New Zealand citizens who meet transitional arrangements put in place in 2001 continue to be treated as a permanent resident for the purposes of the Australian Citizenship Act 2007.

There are 17,000 Cook Islanders among an estimated 650,000 New Zealanders living and working in Australia. New Zealand citizens who moved to Australia before February 26, 2001, can apply for Australian citizenship as permanent residents of that country. About a third of New Zealand citizens in Australia are believed to qualify as permanent residents and of those about 40 per cent have secured citizenship. Cook Islanders who moved to Australia after the February 2001 cut-off must apply for permanent residency and compete against other skilled migrants.

The Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection, which oversees the issue, says: “The pathway will be made available within the Skilled Independent category of the General Skilled Migration stream of Australia’s annual migration programme.

“This pathway will allow Special Category Visa holders who have been living in Australia for the past five years, and have earned income at or above NZ$57,000 ? to apply for permanent residency and thereafter citizenship.”

Requirements for this visa pathway include five years’ residence in Australia, tax contributions and mandatory health, character and security checks. The New Zealand High Commission says there is a general provision in Australian law for legislation to expire after 10 years unless specifically exempted.

“This applied to the Australian Citizenship Act of 2007 until it was updated in 2016 by the Australian Citizenship Regulation.  

This update preserves the policy settings relating to New Zealand citizens covered by the 2001 transitional arrangements.” 

The High Commission advises there is more information for New Zealand citizens living in Australia can be found on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website at http://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Life/New-

Most New Zealand citizens who enter Australia on a New Zealand passport do so under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement.

New Zealand citizens who enter Australia under this arrangement do not have to apply for a visa before travelling. They are granted a Special Category visa (subclass 444) (SCV) on arrival in Australia, subject to meeting certain health and character requirements.....PACNEWS

 



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