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Requirements for New Zealand Citizenship

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General Requirements for a Grant of New Zealand Citizenship

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General Requirements for a Grant of New Zealand Citizenship




You may be eligible for grant of New Zealand citizenship if you: EITHER
  1. You have received your permanent residence before 21 April 2005, and
  2. Have been ordinarily resident in New Zealand for the last 3 years.
OR
  1. You have received your permanent residence on or after 21 April 2005, and
  2. Have had your New Zealand permanent residence for the last 5 years.
Each of these requirements is described below in more detail. Also detailed below are other requirements for applicants aged under 16 years.


Intention
You must intend, if granted New Zealand citizenship, to continue to be ordinarily resident in New Zealand.
Ordinary residence is explained below.

Otherwise, you must intend to enter into or continue in one of the following:
  • Crown Service under the New Zealand Government; or
  • Service under an international organisation of which the New Zealand Government is a member; or
  • Service in the employment of a person, company, society or other body of persons resident or established in New Zealand.
How is the requirement assessed?
You must indicate on the application form whether or not you intend to continue to reside in New Zealand.

Important things you need to know
Please note, if you travel overseas after lodging your application, the processing may not be completed until you return to New Zealand.

English
You must have sufficient knowledge of the English language.

How is the requirement assessed?
You must be able to demonstrate that you can manage independently in everyday situations.

We will be looking at your standard of education and the nature of your employment and any face-to-face communication that you have had with the Citizenship Office.

Important things you need to know
We may require you to attend an
English language interview. The purpose of this interview will be to assess your ability to meet the English language requirement.

Good Character
You need to be of good character.

Please note that except in very rare circumstances you will be disqualified from meeting the good character requirement if:
  • You have been in prison for 5 years or more; or
  • You have been sentenced to an indefinite term of imprisonment capable of running for 5 years or more; or
  • Within the previous 7 years you were sentenced to a term of imprisonment of less than 5 years; or
  • Within the previous 3 years you were convicted of an offence but did not receive a sentence of imprisonment.
How is the requirement assessed?
To determine whether you are of good character the Minister will consider the answers you have given on your application form. We will also complete background checks with the New Zealand Police and other agencies.

Important things you need to know
Changes to answers given in the application form
If there is any change in your circumstances that affects the answers you give on your application form then you must let us know in writing as soon as possible. If you choose not to, your ability to get New Zealand citizenship or your ability to continue to be a New Zealand citizen, if granted, may be affected.

Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004
Some people with previous criminal convictions in New Zealand may be able to conceal their criminal record under the
Criminal Records (Clean Slate) Act 2004. A person may be eligible to conceal their record if they have:
  • Had no convictions within the last 7 years.
  • Never been in prison (or other custodial sentence).
  • Never been detained in a mental institution instead of being sentenced.
  • Not been convicted of certain specified offences (e.g. relating to sexual offences).
  • Paid all fines, costs, compensation and reparation imposed by the court.
  • Never been disqualified indefinitely from holding or obtaining a drivers licence.
If you are eligible under the clean slate scheme you may answer any question about your criminal record by stating that you do not have a criminal record.

If you are uncertain whether you are able to conceal your record or would like further information please contact the Ministry of Justice.

Please note that the clean slate scheme only applies to convictions in New Zealand. Any conviction you may have received outside New Zealand must be disclosed.

Responsibilities and Privileges
Becoming a New Zealand citizen means you will undertake responsibilities and you will enjoy the same privileges of a person born in New Zealand. You must be aware of these responsibilities and privileges.

Responsibilities
  • To obey and promote the laws of New Zealand (this includes registration as a voter and fulfilment of tax obligations).
  • Not to act in a way that is against the interests of New Zealand.
Privileges
  • Foreign travel and freedom to return to New Zealand on a New Zealand passport.
  • Full economic rights;
    • Some public service positions may only be held by New Zealand citizens;
    • Ownership of rural land is difficult for people who are not New Zealand citizens.
  • Full access to education;
    • Only New Zealand citizens qualify for;
      1. subsidised fees;
      2. some scholarships and awards;
      3. financial assistance from some overseas universities.
  • Access to international sport;
    • Some sports require that international players are citizens of the country they represent.
Residence
To be eligible for a grant of New Zealand citizenship you must have permanent residence (or be an Australian citizen or permanent resident). Permanent residence means that the
Workforce Group (Immigration Service) has allowed you to live in New Zealand permanently.

How is the requirement assessed?
Important! There has been a recent law change regarding permanent residence. If you received permanent residence before 21 April 2005 see Permanent Residence before 21 April 2005. If you received permanent residence on or after 21 April 2005 see Permanent Residence on or after 21 April 2005.


Permanent Residence before 21 April 2005
If you received permanent residence before 21 April 2005, or made an application for permanent residence before 21 April 2005 that was approved after 21 April 2005, you must satisfy two requirements:
  1. Ordinary Residence; and
  2. Lawful Residence
Ordinary Residence
You must have been ordinarily resident in New Zealand for the last 3 years. This means that you must have been physically present in New Zealand for the last 3 years.

Overseas Travel
Any travel away from New Zealand, short or long, WILL be taken into consideration in determining that you meet this requirement. You may not meet this requirement and may need to provide a letter of explanation if:
  • You were away for more than one year in total;
  • A single trip was for more than 4 months;
  • You were not in New Zealand for 8 of the 12 weeks immediately before applying;
  • You were not in New Zealand for 8 out of the 12 weeks at the beginning of the ordinary residence period (unless you have lived in New Zealand for 4 years or more).
PLEASE NOTE: shorter periods away may also mean you may not meet the requirement. Each application will be assessed on its merits.

If you travelled overseas during your ordinary residence period (i.e. during the last 3 years) you may still meet the ordinary residence requirement as long as:
  • New Zealand was your home base; and
  • You did not enter into a settled lifestyle overseas.
If you are under 21
If you are under 21, in the years up to your 18th birthday, you may be considered to have been ordinarily resident both where you are living and wherever your parent(s) had their permanent home base. For the period after your 18th birthday, the ordinary residence requirements listed above apply (i.e. where you have lived).

Lawful Residence
You must have been lawfully in New Zealand for the last 3 years by having valid immigration permits for all the period.

If you have a gap in your permits of no more than 14 days during the three-year period prior to applying for citizenship, you may still qualify.

Permanent Residence on or after 21 April 2005
If you applied for and received permanent residence after 21 April 2005 you are required to fulfill the following requirements. You are required to have:
  1. Been present in New Zealand for a total of at least 1,350 days during the 5 years immediately before you make your application; and
  2. Been present in New Zealand for a total of at least 240 days in each of those 5 years, with a Permanent Resident Permit issued by the New Zealand Immigration Service; and
  3. Fully met any conditions imposed by the New Zealand Immigration Service in regard to your Permanent Resident Permit.
Please Note: If you can show that there are exceptional circumstances that warrant a reduction, you may be considered as long as you have a minimum presence in New Zealand of 450 days with a Permanent Resident Permit in the 20 months before you make your application.


Other Requirements for Applicants Aged Under 16
If you are under 16 during the processing of your New Zealand citizenship application and your parent(s) are New Zealand citizens or have applied and are able to fulfil the requirements for a grant of New Zealand citizenship, you may not have to meet the ordinary residence requirement.

Consent to apply
Applicants under 16 need the consent of their parent(s) or legal guardian(s) to apply. If the consent of only one parent is available please
contact us.

Applicants under 14 years old are not required to meet the English, character and knowledge requirements.

Successful applicants, over 14 years old must attend a public citizenship ceremony where they take the oath or affirmation of allegiance. Successful applicants under 14 may attend a ceremony if they wish.

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Last updated: 02/05/2006