The Department of Internal Affairs says a musician fighting for citizenship will need to establish exceptional circumstances.
Phoenix Foundation member Will Ricketts says he was told Internal Affairs would deny his application because he had not spent enough time in New Zealand in the last five years.
Ricketts says he has lived in New Zealand since he was two and his time overseas has been used to promote the band, so he is planning to take his case to the minister.
Internal Affairs citizenship operations manager Gary Basham told Morning Report that the legislation requires people to have been in New Zealand for 1350 days in the last five years, and 240 days in each of those five years.
He said it is quite prescriptive, but the minister has the power to exercise discretion.