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New Zealand Sees Spike in Americans Seeking Citizenship Following Trump's Election

Applications from Americans seeking citizenship to the Kiwi nation jumped 70 percent over the 12 weeks following the election, compared to the same period last year.
15 March 2017, 4:00am

New Zealand is a picturesque country with roughly 4.8 million people and six times as many sheep. It's also apparently where a flood of Americans are trying to gain citizenship since their own country elected a former reality TV star as president.

In the 12 weeks after Donald Trump's election victory, applications from Americans seeking citizenship in New Zealand jumped 70 percent compared to the same period last year, according to immigration records obtained by the Associated Press. A grant of citizenship, for the record, is a way for those without a parent from New Zealand to obtain legal status in the country. The number of Americans with Kiwi heritage vying for citizenship also rose to 203 post-election, up from 183 over the same time period the year before.

Though the 70 percent figure may seem impressive, it's not quite the mass exodus one might imagine. Only 170 people have applied for citizenship since the election, as compared to 100 during the same time period the year before. Still, 170 more citizens means New Zealand will have to add 1,020 more sheep to keep its livestock ratio in check.

Before you hop on a plane, know that most Americans need to live in the country for five years before they can apply to stay there for good. Because of that, Cameron Pritchard, a New Zealand immigration consultant, says he thinks the uptick in applications aren't necessarily from people stateside looking to flee a Trump government, but rather Americans already living in New Zealand who want to cement their legal right to stay.

"It's been more of a flurry of excitement initially than anything that's translated into a huge avalanche of numbers," he told the AP.

Still, interest in the island nation has been keen post-election. In the two days after Trump's win, more than ten times as many people visited the New Zealand website explaining the citizenship process compared to two comparable days that same month. Work visas were up 18 percent in January compared to January 2016, and so was the number of people from the States visiting.