Wellington, March 26 New Zealand welcomed 31,870 new citizens in 2020, down from 44,413 in 2019, and the decrease was due to the effects of Covid-19 pandemic, new data released by the country's Department of Internal Affairs revealed on Friday.
According to the data, Australia is still the most common country of birth for people born outside New Zealand to gain citizenship, reports Xinhua news agency.
Just over 5,200 Austral became New Zealand citizens in 2020, either because they had a parent who is a citizen or they migrated to New Zealand.
The UK came second, with 5,199 new Kiwis, followed by India with 2,970, according to the data.
General Manager Services and Access at the Department of Internal Affairs Julia Wootton said there are various ways people can become citizens, but the easiest way is to be born here.
People can also become citizens "by descent" - they have a parent who was born in New Zealand - or "by grant" where they have migrated to New Zealand and applied for citizenship.
"In 2020, we gained 31,870 new foreign-born Kiwis, 11,436 by descent and 20,434 by grant.
"Over the past few years we've seen a decrease in the number of people gaining citizenship by grant, although 2020 saw a significant drop due to Covid-19.
"While we don't collect data on why people do or don't apply to become citizens, we believe that the drop in citizenship numbers is due to the disruption that Covid-19 has caused worldwide. We forecast that this will continue to be the case this year too," Wootton added.
( With inputs from IANS )
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