Citizenship Amendment Bill

  • discharged on 21 March 2012

Citizenship Amendment Bill

Government Bill

226—1

Explanatory note

General policy statement

New Zealand citizenship is the strongest legal link people can have to New Zealand. The Citizenship Amendment Bill (this Bill) seeks to create a more inclusive citizenship system.

Citizenship provides people with a number of rights and obligations. Only New Zealand citizens have an unfettered right to enter, live, and work in New Zealand, and only citizens are entitled to stand for Parliament and local authority elections. Citizens have an obligation to act in the interests of New Zealand.

The requirements for the grant of citizenship to migrants need to provide a balance between different competing aims. On the one hand, the requirements should provide an inclusive citizenship system which positions New Zealand well in the competitive global migration environment. In particular, the requirements should aim to attract and keep skilled migrants in New Zealand. On the other hand, it is also important that only people with a genuine connection to New Zealand, and who are able to make a positive contribution to our society, become citizens. This Bill amends the requirements for the grant of citizenship to provide a more inclusive citizenship system while not having a negative impact on the latter aims.

The Bill achieves these policy objectives through a number of changes to various requirements migrants must usually meet before being eligible to receive a grant of citizenship. These include reducing the presence period from 5 years to 2 years for regular members of the New Zealand Defence Force, making better provision for families that travel overseas together for the Government or an international organisation, and providing the Minister of Internal Affairs with an ability to grant citizenship to applicants convicted of very minor offences. A number of other minor amendments clarify and improve existing provisions in the Citizenship Act 1977.

Regulatory impact statement

The Department of Internal Affairs produced a regulatory impact statement in November 2009 to help inform the main policy decisions taken by the Government relating to the contents of this Bill.

A copy of this regulatory impact statement can be found at—

Clause by clause analysis

Clause 1 is the Title clause.

Clause 2 is the commencement clause.

Clause 3 provides that the Bill amends the Citizenship Act 1977 (the principal Act).

Part 1
Amendments to principal Act

Clause 4 amends section 2, which is an interpretation provision. The amendment adds new subsection (4), which provides that, despite section 2(3)(a) and (b), a person is to be treated as having been born—

  • in New Zealand, if the person was born on a ship (whether registered or unregistered) within the territorial waters of New Zealand or aboard an aircraft (whether registered or unregistered) in the airspace within the territorial limits of New Zealand:

  • in the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau (as the case may be), if the person was born on a ship (whether registered or unregistered) within the territorial waters of the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau (as the case may be) or aboard an aircraft (whether registered or unregistered) in the airspace within the territorial limits of the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau.

Clause 5 amends section 3, which contains special provisions relating to parentage, to correct a cross-reference.

Clause 6 substitutes new section 7(3), which relates to citizenship by descent, so that the Secretary for Internal Affairs (the Secretary) or a person authorised by the Secretary is no longer required to sign the certificate issued by the Secretary stating that a person is a citizen by descent.

Clause 7 inserts new section 7A, which provides that a person born outside New Zealand before 1 January 1970 to a mother who was a New Zealand citizen otherwise than by descent is a New Zealand citizen and may apply to have his or her citizenship registered in accordance with regulations made under the principal Act (currently regulation 11 of the Citizenship Regulations 2002).

Clause 8 repeals section 8, which relates to citizenship by grant, and substitutes new sections 8 to 8F. The new provisions reorganise and amend current section 8 as follows:

  • new section 8 substantially re-enacts current section 8(1) and (2)(c) to (f). It sets out the core requirements for an application of citizenship by grant:

  • new section 8A specifies the requirements relating to presence in New Zealand for the purposes of new section 8(1)(e). The main change from the current requirements is that new section 8A(1)(b) sets out particular presence requirements for applicants who are members of the regular forces within the meaning of the Defence Act 1990:

  • new section 8B substantially re-enacts current section 8(4)(b) and (7). It provides that the Minister of Internal Affairs (the Minister) may, after consultation with the Minister of the Crown who, under the authority of any warrant or with the authority of the Prime Minister, is for the time being responsible for the administration of the Immigration Act 1987, treat an applicant as having been present in New Zealand for any period specified in new section 8A(1)(a) or (2) if, immediately before the date of the application,—

    • the applicant was present in the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau; and

    • the applicant was entitled to reside indefinitely in the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau; and

    • the basis on which the applicant received the entitlement to reside indefinitely in the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau was not contrary to the interests of New Zealand:

  • new section 8C re-enacts current section 8(5) and (6). It provides that the Minister may treat an applicant as having been present in New Zealand or the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau (as the case may be) for any period specified in those provisions if, immediately before the date of the application, the applicant was—

    • outside New Zealand in Crown service under the New Zealand Government or outside the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau in the public service of the Government of the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau; or

    • outside New Zealand or the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau (as the case may be) because he or she was accompanying a specified person who is a New Zealand citizen in Crown service under the New Zealand Government or a New Zealand citizen serving in the public service of the Government of the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau:

  • new section 8D re-enacts current section 8(3) and (4)(a). It contains further provisions relating to the entitlement to reside in New Zealand indefinitely for the purposes of new section 8(1)(d):

  • new section 8E re-enacts current section 8(8). It provides that the Minister may waive the requirement in new section 8(1)(h) relating to knowledge of the English language in certain circumstances:

  • new section 8F re-enacts current section 8(9). It contains further provisions relating to the requirement to have a continuing intention to reside in New Zealand for the purposes of new section 8(1)(i).

Clause 9 amends section 9, which relates to the grant of citizenship in special cases, to update a cross-reference.

Clause 10 amends section 9A, which relates to disqualifying convictions. The amendment substitutes new subsection (1)(c), which provides that the Minister must not authorise the grant of citizenship under section 8 or 9 to a person who has been convicted of an offence if, within the preceding 3 years, the person was convicted of an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment of 3 months or more but the person did not receive a sentence of imprisonment.

Clause 11 repeals section 10, which relates to the grant of citizenship as of right in certain cases, as the substance of this provision is now covered by new section 7A.

Clause 12 amends section 11, which relates to the discretion of the Minister to make the grant of New Zealand citizenship conditional on the applicant taking an oath of allegiance or an affirmation to similar effect. The amendment inserts new subsection (1A), which provides that the oath or affirmation required by section 11(1) must be taken in an official language of New Zealand. The official languages of New Zealand are English, te reo Māori, and New Zealand Sign Language.

Clause 13 amends section 15, which relates to renunciation of New Zealand citizenship. Subclause (1) substitutes new subsections (1) and (1A), which relate to the classes of persons who may renounce New Zealand citizenship by declaration of renunciation. The main changes are—

  • the addition of new subsection (1)(b), which provides that a person who has attained the age of 18 years and who is of full capacity may make a declaration of renunciation if being a citizen of New Zealand prevents the person from becoming a citizen of another country and on the renunciation of the person's New Zealand citizenship he or she will, as soon as practicable, become a citizen of that other country; and

  • the insertion of new subsection (1A), which provides that the Minister may waive either or both of the requirements in new subsection (1) for the person seeking to make a declaration of renunciation of New Zealand citizenship to have attained the age of 18 years and to be of full capacity if it is in the best interests of the person to do so and new subsection (1)(a) or (b) apply.

Subclause (2) amends section 15(4) to omit a redundant cross-reference.

Clause 14 amends section 17, which relates to the deprivation of New Zealand citizenship in cases of fraud, etc by substituting new subsections (2) and (2A). New subsection (2) sets out the grounds on which the Minister may deprive a person of his or her New Zealand citizenship. The main change is the addition of new subsection (2)(b), which provides that the Minister may deprive a person of his or her New Zealand citizenship if the person has committed an offence punishable by a term of imprisonment before acquiring New Zealand citizenship but was convicted in relation to that offence after the person acquired New Zealand citizenship. New subsection (2A) clarifies that new subsection (2)(b) does not apply to a New Zealand citizen who has been granted citizenship under the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982.

Clause 15 inserts new section 20A, which requires certain persons to return certificates of New Zealand citizenship to the Secretary. The persons are—

  • a person who has had a declaration of renunciation of New Zealand citizenship registered under regulations made under the principal Act:

  • a person who has been deprived of his or her New Zealand citizenship by order made under section 16 or 17 of the principal Act:

  • a person who has had his or her name removed by the Secretary from the register of citizenship maintained by the Department of Internal Affairs under regulations made under the principal Act.

The requirement to return the above certificates to the Secretary also extends to any person who has another person's New Zealand citizenship certificate in his or her possession or control.

Clause 16 amends section 27, which specifies offences and penalties. The amendment adds new subsection (3), which provides that a person commits an offence, and is liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 3 months or a fine of $2,000, who, knowingly and without reasonable excuse, fails to return a certificate specified in new section 20A to the Secretary.

Clause 17 consequentially amends section 28(1)(e), which authorises the making of regulations under the principal Act.

Part 2
Consequential amendments, revocation, and transitional provision

Clause 18 and the Schedule make consequential amendments to other enactments. The Naturalization Regulations, 1929, are also revoked because they are spent.

Clause 19 is a transitional provision that provides that the Bill does not apply to an application for a grant of citizenship made before the date of commencement of the Bill, and any application must be determined as if this Bill had not been passed.


Hon Nathan Guy

Citizenship Amendment Bill

Government Bill

226—1

The Parliament of New Zealand enacts as follows:

1 Title
  • This Act is the Citizenship Amendment Act 2010.

2 Commencement
  • This Act comes into force on the day after the date on which it receives the Royal assent.

3 Principal Act amended
  • This Act amends the Citizenship Act 1977.

Part 1
Amendments to principal Act

4 Interpretation
  • Section 2 is amended by adding the following subsection:

    • (4) Despite subsection (3)(a) and (b),—

      • (a) a person born on a ship (whether registered or unregistered) within the territorial waters of New Zealand or aboard an aircraft (whether registered or unregistered) in the airspace within the territorial limits of New Zealand is to be treated as having been born in New Zealand; and

      • (b) a person born on a ship (whether registered or unregistered) within the territorial waters of the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau or aboard an aircraft (whether registered or unregistered) in the airspace within the territorial limits of the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau (as the case may be) is to be treated as having been born in the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau (as the case may be).

5 Special provisions relating to parentage
  • Section 3(5A) is amended by omitting subsection 3(1)(a) and substituting subsection (1)(a).

6 Citizenship by descent
  • Section 7 is amended by repealing subsection (3) and substituting the following subsection:

    • (3) For the purposes of this section, the Secretary may issue a certificate in the prescribed form stating a person's status under this section and, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, a certificate to that effect is sufficient evidence of the matters stated in the certificate.

7 New section 7A inserted
  • The following section is inserted after section 7:

    7A Citizenship by descent if mother New Zealand citizen otherwise than by descent
    • (1) Every person born outside New Zealand before 1 January 1970 may register as a New Zealand citizen by descent if, at the time of the person's birth, the person's mother was a New Zealand citizen otherwise than by descent.

      (2) A person who wishes to register as a New Zealand citizen by descent under subsection (1) may do so in accordance with regulations made under this Act.

      (3) A person who is registered under this section must be treated as a New Zealand citizen from the date of registration.

      (4) For the purposes of this section, the Secretary may issue a certificate in the prescribed form stating a person's status under this section and, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, a certificate to that effect is sufficient evidence of the matters stated in the certificate.

      (5) This section does not apply to a person who has—

      • (a) renounced his or her New Zealand citizenship under section 15; or

      • (b) previously been deprived of New Zealand citizenship by order under section 16 or 17.

8 New sections 8 to 8F substituted
  • Section 8 is repealed and the following sections are substituted:

    8 Citizenship by grant
    • (1) The Minister may authorise the grant of New Zealand citizenship to any person, including a person who may be a New Zealand citizen by descent, who—

      • (a) has attained the age of 16 years; and

      • (b) is of full capacity; and

      • (c) applies for citizenship in the prescribed manner; and

      • (d) satisfies the Minister that he or she is entitled in terms of the Immigration Act 1987 to reside in New Zealand indefinitely; and

      • (e) satisfies the Minister that he or she meets the requirements relating to presence in New Zealand specified in section 8A; and

      • (f) satisfies the Minister that he or she is of good character; and

      • (g) satisfies the Minister that he or she has sufficient knowledge of the responsibilities and privileges attaching to New Zealand citizenship; and

      • (h) satisfies the Minister that he or she has sufficient knowledge of the English language; and

      • (i) satisfies the Minister that he or she intends, if granted New Zealand citizenship, to continue to reside in New Zealand.

      (2) Subsection (1)(e) is subject to sections 8B and 8C.

    8A Requirements relating to presence in New Zealand
    • (1) The requirements relating to presence in New Zealand referred to in section 8(1)(e) are as follows:

      • (a) unless paragraph (b) applies, the applicant must have been—

        • (i) present in New Zealand for a minimum of 1 350 days during the 5 years immediately before the date of the application for citizenship and for at least 240 days in each of those 5 years; and

        • (ii) entitled to be in New Zealand indefinitely during each of those 1 350 days and 240 days:

      • (b) if the applicant is a member of the regular forces, the applicant must have been—

        • (i) present in New Zealand for a minimum of 540 days during the 2 years immediately before the date of the application; and

        • (ii) entitled to be in New Zealand indefinitely during each of those 540 days; and

        • (iii) a member of the regular forces during each of those 540 days.

      (2) If the Minister is satisfied in a particular case that there are exceptional circumstances particular to the applicant that justify it, the Minister may accept the presence of the applicant in New Zealand for a lesser number of days as being sufficient compliance with subsection (1), as long as the applicant was—

      • (a) present in New Zealand for not less than 450 days during the 20-month period immediately before the date of the application; and

      • (b) entitled to be in New Zealand indefinitely during each of those 450 days.

      (3) In this section, regular forces has the same meaning as in section 2(1) of the Defence Act 1990.

    8B Presence requirement for applicants present in Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau
    • The Minister may, after consultation with the Minister of the Crown who, under the authority of any warrant or with the authority of the Prime Minister, is for the time being responsible for the administration of the Immigration Act 1987, treat an applicant as having been present in New Zealand for any period within the relevant periods specified in section 8A(1)(a) or (2) if, immediately before the date of the application for citizenship,—

      • (a) the applicant was present in the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau; and

      • (b) the applicant was entitled to reside indefinitely in the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau; and

      • (c) the basis on which the applicant received the entitlement to reside indefinitely in the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau was not contrary to the interests of New Zealand.

    8C Presence requirements for applicants in, or accompanying person in, Crown service or public service
    • (1) The Minister may treat an applicant as having been present in New Zealand or in the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau (as the case may be) for any period within the relevant periods specified in section 8A if, immediately before the date of the application for citizenship,—

      • (a) the applicant was outside New Zealand in Crown service under the New Zealand Government or outside the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau (as the case may be) serving in the public service of the Government of the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau; or

      • (b) the applicant was outside New Zealand or the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau (as the case may be) because the applicant was accompanying a person specified in subsection (2) who is—

        • (i) a New Zealand citizen in Crown service under the New Zealand Government; or

        • (ii) a New Zealand citizen serving in the public service of the Government of the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau.

      (2) The persons are—

      • (a) the applicant's spouse:

      • (b) the applicant's civil union or de facto partner:

      • (c) the applicant's parent.

    8D Further provisions relating to entitlement to reside in New Zealand indefinitely
    • (1) For the purposes of section 8(1)(d), a person will not be treated as entitled to be in New Zealand indefinitely if—

      • (a) requirements have been imposed under the Immigration Act 1987 on the person's entitlement to reside in New Zealand indefinitely; and

      • (b) those requirements have not been met in full or cancelled at the time of the person's application for citizenship.

      (2) The Minister may, after consultation with the Minister of the Crown who, under the authority of any warrant or with the authority of the Prime Minister, is for the time being responsible for the administration of the Immigration Act 1987, waive the requirement in section 8(1)(d) relating to the entitlement to reside in New Zealand indefinitely if the Minister is satisfied that an applicant is entitled to reside indefinitely in the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau.

    8E Minister may waive knowledge of English language requirement
    • The Minister may waive the requirement in section 8(1)(h) if the Minister is satisfied in a particular case that, because of the applicant's age or standard of education, or for any other reason personal to the applicant, the applicant would suffer undue hardship if compliance with the requirement of that provision were insisted upon.

    8F Further provisions relating to continuing intention to reside in New Zealand
    • (1) For the purposes of section 8(1)(i), the intention to continue to reside in New Zealand must be a continuing intention throughout the period from the date of application for citizenship until the date on which the applicant becomes a citizen under section 12.

      (2) The Minister may treat an applicant as intending to continue to reside in New Zealand if the applicant—

      • (a) intends to enter into or continue in—

        • (i) Crown service under the New Zealand Government; or

        • (ii) service under an international organisation of which the New Zealand Government is a member; or

        • (iii) service in the employment of a person, company, society, or other body of persons resident or established in New Zealand; or

      • (b) intends to accompany a person specified in subsection (3) who is—

        • (i) a New Zealand citizen in Crown service under the New Zealand Government; or

        • (ii) a New Zealand citizen in service under an international organisation of which the New Zealand Government is a member; or

        • (iii) a New Zealand citizen serving in the public service of the Government of the Cook Islands, Niue, or Tokelau.

      (3) The persons are—

      • (a) the applicant's spouse:

      • (b) the applicant's civil union or de facto partner:

      • (c) the applicant's parent.

9 Grant of citizenship in special cases
  • (1) Section 9(1) is amended by omitting section 8 and substituting sections 8 to 8C.

    (2) Section 9(2) is amended by repealing paragraph (a) and substituting the following paragraph:

    • (a) may have regard to any of the requirements of section 8(1)(d) to (i) (as subject to sections 8B to 8F) as the Minister thinks fit; and.

10 Disqualifying convictions
  • Section 9A(1) is amended by repealing paragraph (c) and substituting the following paragraph:

    • (c) within the preceding 3 years, the person was convicted of an offence punishable by imprisonment for a term of 3 months or more but did not receive a sentence of imprisonment.

11 Section 10 repealed
  • Section 10 is repealed.

12 Minister may require oath or affirmation of allegiance to be taken
  • Section 11 is amended by inserting the following subsection after subsection (1):

    • (1A) The oath or affirmation required by subsection (1) must be taken in an official language of New Zealand.

13 Renunciation of citizenship
  • (1) Section 15 is amended by repealing subsection (1) and substituting the following subsections:

    • (1) A New Zealand citizen who has attained the age of 18 years and who is of full capacity may, at any time, make a declaration of renunciation of his or her New Zealand citizenship in the prescribed manner if—

      • (a) he or she is recognised by the law of another country as a citizen of that country; or

      • (b) being a New Zealand citizen prevents the person from becoming a citizen of another country and on renunciation of the person's New Zealand citizenship he or she will, as soon as practicable, become a citizen of that other country.

    • (1A) The Minister may waive either or both of the requirements in subsection (1) for the person to have attained the age of 18 years and to be of full capacity before the person may make a declaration of renunciation under that subsection if the Minister is satisfied that—

      • (a) it is in the best interests of the person to do so; and

      • (b) subsection (1)(a) or (b) apply.

    (2) Section 15(4) is amended by omitting or section 8A.

14 Deprivation of New Zealand citizenship in case of fraud, etc
  • Section 17 is amended by repealing subsection (2) and substituting the following subsections:

    • (2) Subject to section 19, the Minister may, by order, deprive a New Zealand citizen to whom this section applies of his or her New Zealand citizenship if—

      • (a) the Minister is satisfied that the registration, naturalisation, grant, or any grant requirement was procured by—

        • (i) fraud, false representation, or wilful concealment of relevant information:

        • (ii) mistake; or

      • (b) the person has committed an offence (whether in New Zealand or overseas) before acquiring New Zealand citizenship but was convicted and received a sentence of imprisonment (whether in New Zealand or overseas) in relation to that offence after the person acquired New Zealand citizenship.

    • (2A) Subsection (2)(b) does not apply to a New Zealand citizen who has been granted citizenship under the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982.

15 New section 20A inserted
  • The following section is inserted after section 20:

    20A Certificates relating to New Zealand citizenship or citizenship status must be returned to Secretary
    • (1) A person to whom a certificate has been issued under section 7(3), 7A(4), 12, or 21 must, as soon as is practicable, return that certificate to the Secretary if the person has—

      • (a) had a declaration of renunciation of his or her New Zealand citizenship registered under section 15(2):

      • (b) been deprived of his or her New Zealand citizenship by order made under section 16 or 17:

      • (c) had his or her name removed by the Secretary from the register of citizenship by descent maintained by the Department of Internal Affairs under regulations made under this Act.

      (2) Any other person who has a certificate referred to in subsection (1) in his or her possession or control must, as soon as practicable, return the certificate to the Secretary if any of the circumstances described in that subsection apply.

16 Offences and penalties
  • Section 27 is amended by adding the following subsection:

    • (3) Every person commits an offence, and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or a fine not exceeding $2,000, who, knowingly and without reasonable excuse, fails to return a certificate to the Secretary in contravention of section 20A.

17 Regulations
  • Section 28(1)(e) is amended by omitting , and providing for the surrender of such certificates by such persons.

Part 2
Consequential amendments, revocation, and transitional provision

18 Consequential amendments and revocation
  • (1) The enactments listed in the Schedule are amended in the manner set out in that schedule.

    (2) The Naturalization Regulations, 1929 (Gazette 1929, p 2418) are revoked.

19 Transitional provision
  • Nothing in this Act applies to an application for a grant of citizenship made before the date of commencement of this Act, and any such application must be determined as if this Act had not been passed.


Schedule 
Consequential amendments to other enactments

s 18(1)

Part 1
Amendments to Acts

Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982 (1982 No 11)

Section 6: omit any of sections 8 to 10 and substitute section 8 or 9.

Section 7(2): omit section 10 and substitute section 9.

Immigration Act 2009 (2009 No 51)

Section 13(4)(b)(iii): insert or 7A after section 7(2).

Section 64(1)(h): insert or 7A after section 7(2).

Section 174(1)(c): omit sections 9 and 10 and substitute section 9.

Section 213(1)(d): omit sections 9 and 10 and substitute section 9.

Passports Act 1992 (1992 No 92)

Section 25(1): add ; or and the following paragraph:

  • (h) the holder has renounced New Zealand citizenship under section 15 of the Citizenship Act 1977 or been deprived of New Zealand citizenship under section 16 or 17 of that Act.

Part 2
Amendments to regulations

Citizenship Regulations 2002 (SR 2002/73)

Regulation 4: omit section 8 or section 8A or section 9 or section 10 and substitute: section 8 or 9.

Insert after regulation 5:

5A Certificates evidencing citizenship by descent
  • A certificate issued under section 7(3) or 7A(4) of the Act must be in the form for the time being prescribed by the Minister.

Regulation 8(5): revoke and substitute:

  • (5) Unless the Minister is not satisfied that section 15(1) of the Act applies or declines to register the declaration pursuant to section 15(3) of the Act, the Minister must cause 1 copy to be officially noted as having been registered. That copy must be returned to the declarant, and the other copy must be filed in the Department.

Regulation 8(6): revoke.

Regulation 9: revoke.

Regulation 11(3): insert or 7A(2) after section 7(2).

Regulation 11(3B): insert or 7A(2) after section 7(2).

Regulation 19: revoke.