Skip to main content

Citizenship timeframe differences

Reasons why some citizenship by grant applications take longer to process than others.

Some citizenship applications may take longer to process than others.

This can cause confusion between citizenship applicants, especially when one applicant is granted citizenship before another who may have applied earlier.

The reason for the difference in processing times is because some applications:

  • take less time to process if we can assess some of the requirements automatically
  • are impacted by other legislation (such as the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982)
  • are submitted with all the correct supporting information, and some are not
  • require information from overseas sources and the timeframe on obtaining this information varies.

Automated checks

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) runs automated checks on citizenship applications.

These checks include data-matching with other government agencies and with DIA records.

Automated checks determine which category an application will be put in for processing, we call these 'workstreams'. The workstream an application is put in can affect how long it takes to be processed.

Automated checks are continually being introduced and existing checks are also being improved.

Manual checks

All applications are subject to manual checks where automated checks are not enough.

An application may need manual checks if:

  • the applicant changed their name after they moved to New Zealand
  • there is a gap in the applicant’s New Zealand residency status (for example, they didn’t have residence status for all of the 5-year presence period):

    Presence in NZ requirements

  • the applicant did not meet the presence requirements on the day they applied for citizenship
  • the photo they supplied does not meet the required quality standards:

    What to get ready before you apply for NZ citizenship

  • data supplied cannot be automatically matched with other government agencies
  • external checks by government agencies show the applicant may not meet citizenship requirements.


This section explains how applications are placed into 1 of the 5 processing workstreams and what the workstreams do.

How applications are processed

Citizenship by Grant applications all begin in the same processing workstream.

Automated checks are applied to all applications. Some will move into different workstreams based on the results of these checks.

In general, an application will be placed in a workstream based on:

  • the number of automatic checks that can be done
  • whether the application was made online or on paper
  • differences in the types of information required to process the application
  • if an application needs to be assessed under the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982.

The 5 workstreams

  • All applications start in an initial workstream and are either filtered automatically into another workstream (described below) or remain in this workstream until they are picked up by staff to assess. The filter is run on all applications weekly to assess automated checks.
  • Applications that need to be assessed under the Citizenship (Western Samoa) Act 1982.
  • Online applications that meet all automated checks.
  • Applications submitted on paper that meet all automated checks.
  • Online applications that meet all automated checks except the presence in New Zealand or the English language requirements. Further manual assessment is required.

Applications are processed in date order

Applications are processed in date order within each workstream. This is based on when they were submitted, with the oldest applications in each workstream assessed first.

Staff are assigned to work on applications in each workstream, so applications are always being processed in all workstreams. Most staff work on manual workstreams.

Improvements and new automated checks

DIA continually introduces and improves automated checks to the processing system. When an automated check is newly introduced or improved, the check is applied to all applications in the processing system. This is done regardless of when the application was received or the workstream it is in.

This means a new or improved automated check can sort an application into a different workstream.

Things that can speed up processing

We advise an applicant:

  • applies online
  • meets all the requirements for citizenship when they apply
  • provides all the required supporting information
  • supplies a photo that meets quality standards.

What we are doing to speed up processing

As well as improving and introducing automated checks, DIA is taking other measures to reduce the processing time for citizenship applications.

These include:

  • changes to staff allocation
  • more staff training
  • technological improvements.

Utility links and page information

Was this page helpful?
Thanks, do you want to tell us more?

Do not enter personal information. All fields are optional.

Last updated