Kiwis offered pathway to Australian citizenship once more

Thousands of New Zealanders across the Tasman can now become citizens of Australia after being at a dead end for 16 years.

But citizenship has a high price tag and leaves many thousands more Kiwis shut out.

The Whiting family have been Kiwis all their lives. Now, they have a chance to be Australian too.

For the first time since 2001, there's a pathway to citizenship for Kiwis in Australia - but only for those who can afford the cost.

"We're looking at over $8500, which is not really feasible," says Nick Whiting.

Kiwis who arrived in Australia between 2001 and 2016 can become now become residents and then citizens if they get a new special visa.

It's the first chance they've had in 16 years and Jane Crowe's applying right away.

"The worry for me is that as immigration closes down for people from other countries, New Zealanders will continue to be shut out," she says.

It'll cost her around $4000 and she has to meet the minimum income requirements - nearly $54,000 every year for the last five years.

This counts out other Kiwis all over Australia.

Last week, Newshub spoke with Tricia Amiatu, whose husband fell a few hundred dollars short of the threshold only once in the last five years.

"After 12 years, don't they want us? We're actually contributing to society," she says.

Once there was almost no distinction between Kiwis and Australians citizens.

But that all changed in 2001. Since then, Kiwis who come to Australia have had the right to live and work - but not to become residents or citizens.

Kiwis pay taxes for services they can't use. They can't vote, receive benefits or student loans - and university fees are about to triple.

From Saturday, 150,000 Kiwis are eligible for citizenship for the very first time.

But just as many are still shut out. They're faced instead with the stark reality that they have to buy the right to call Australia home.