Surge in US applications for New Zealand citizenship
New Zealand is experiencing a spike in US immigrants wanting to take up citizenship following the election of Donald Trump as US President.
Talk of changing allegiance to another country gained currency at the height of the US presidential campaign and has taken on a new urgency, at least in one distant corner of the world.
In New Zealand, the number of Americans who applied for a grant of citizenship rose by 70 per cent in the 12 weeks following Trump’s election, compared to the same period a year earlier, immigration records obtained by The Associated Press show.
Figures also show the number of Americans who obtained a New Zealand work visa in January was up 18 percent from a year earlier, as was the number of Americans who visited the country.
A grant of New Zealand, citizenship is the pathway for people without a family connection to immigrate
Among those Americans with a New Zealand parent, citizenship applications after the election were up 11 per cent from a year earlier.
In response to an AP freedom of information request, New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs said that in the two days after the US election in November, the number of Americans who visited its website to find out about citizenship was up more than ten-fold from the same two weekdays a month earlier.
To be sure, the total number of Americans applying for New Zealand citizenship remains relatively low.
The country is more than 10,000 kilometres from the mainland US and is perhaps best known for its majestic landscapes.
Farming remains central to the economy, with sheep outnumbering the 4.8 million people by about six to one.
Trump made a brief reference to the country during the election campaign when a New Zealand television reporter asked him what the election would mean for the South Pacific country.
“Say hello to Bob Charles. I love Bob Charles,” Trump replied.
“Do you know who Bob Charles is? Your greatest golfer.”
Charles won the British Open in 1963.
Some Americans living in New Zealand say their friends and family have been asking them about moving there since the election.
Alanna Irving, a technology startup entrepreneur from San Francisco, moved to New Zealand six years ago and has since married a kiwi, as the locals are known.
Irving says she plans to apply for New Zealand citizenship this year and doesn’t foresee ever returning to live in the United States.
She recalled how some friends of hers in the US have been eager to make a permanent move since November’s election result.
Most Americans who apply for New Zealand citizenship must first live in the country for five years.
The increase in citizenship applications could be a result of people wanting to feel more settled in their adopted country, given the uncertain nature of the world, Cameron Pritchard, an immigration consultant said.