Sunday 14 March 2010


Susan and I are permanent residents of New Zealand and have been eligible for citizenship for a couple years. Immigration NZ is reminding permanent residents that there's a slight tightening of the length of residence requirements for switching from permanent residence to citizenship; neither requirement would be binding for us.

But a citizenship application costs $460NZ each.

The only benefits I can see from citizenship that you don't get with permanent residence are:
  • Ability to buy large tracts of property that we cannot afford
  • Option to live and work in Australia
  • Not having to pay the $20 annual travel visa for visits to Australia
  • Option to leave New Zealand for several years and re-settle here sometime later
  • Not having to renew your indefinite returning resident's visa whenever your foreign passport gets renewed (present discounted value of all such fees well below the citizenship application cost)
  • The option to have one's character or health drop below minimal acceptable guidelines and still be permitted re-entry into the country

I'd thought the incentives were only to apply for citizenship if you ever intend on leaving the country: that's when the option value of the passport is highest. But, it turns out that you have to note on the citizenship application form that you intend to continue residing in New Zealand; presumably lying on that part could earn you a citizenship revocation. So we would need to apply for citizenship before ever having any intention of leaving. We have no intention of leaving anytime soon, but option value remains important.

If the only reason for getting citizenship were the option value of leaving, then application for citizenship would be evidence of intending to leave and would preclude such application. However, insurance against the possibility of adverse shocks to health or moral character that would preclude returning, combined with easier short trips to Australia, may be enough to cover the $460/pp fee. Consequently, our eventual application will come with an upward income shock rather than with any particular desire to leave.


  1. Love the Catch 22. Actually, my wife is going through the PR application process at the moment, but said she isn't considering citizenship because she is a Japanese national and they forbid dual citizenship. I was always under the impression the the US had the same rules. (You're a US citizen, right?)

  2. I'm Canadian; Susan is American. Ira is Kiwi with the option to apply for Canadian and American citizenships. I think the US is happy with dual citizenship, at least on a "don't ask don't tell" basis.