Provided they meet certain health and character requirements, New Zealand citizens are automatically granted a Special Category (Subclass 444) visa on arrival which enables them to remain in Australia indefinitely, work and study.
However, except for in limited circumstances, Australian citizenship was only previously available to New Zealand citizens if they followed the regular channels to first become an Australian permanent resident. This typically involved having certain Australian family members or their employers sponsoring them, or was available to limited individuals with specialised skill-sets.
On 19 February 2016, the Australian government announced an additional pathway to Australian permanent residence for many New Zealand citizens who had been living in Australia on the date of announcement.
This streamlined pathway became available on 1 July 2017, under the ‘New Zealand stream’ of the existing Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa.
Why apply for Australian permanent residency?
Although New Zealand Citizens may be eligible for Medicare and certain Centrelink benefits, Australian citizenship remains important for many New Zealanders particularly those who have resided in Australia for extended periods of time. During 2015-16, New Zealand citizens were the 6th highest nation to be conferred Australian citizenship.
Some of the benefits from becoming an Australian permanent resident include:
- the ability to later become an Australian citizen, which provides the ability to:
- hold a passport;
- serve in the military; and
- access HECS-HELP (for New Zealand Citizens who don’t meet the long-term residency requirements);
- access the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
Obtaining Australian permanent residency has become increasingly difficult, particularly with the recent tightening of employer-sponsored permanent residency pathways
Amongst the proposed changes to Australian Citizenship announced on April 2017 (currently before the House of Representatives), is an increase to the number of years the applicant is required to have been an Australian permanent resident prior to applying for citizenship (from 1 year to 4 years). Indications are that New Zealand citizens under this pathway are exempted from this proposed increase, and would be subject to the current residency requirements.=
What is required?
To be eligible for the 189 visa under the NZ stream, at the time of visa application, you must:
- hold a Special Category Subclass 444 visa;
- have been usually resident in Australia for a continuous period of five years immediately prior to application;
- have commenced the above period of usual residence on or before 19 February 2016;
- have a taxable income no less than the minimum amount (currently $53,900) in each of the 4 most recently completed income years, unless exempt; and
- meet mandatory health, character, and security clearances.
Partners/spouses and children may be included in such an application. They will also need to meet health, character and security clearances.
If you’re a New Zealand citizen interested in Australian permanent residency, please feel free to reach out to us for a no obligations 15 minutes chat. Contact us by email at [email protected] or phone (03) 9016 0484 or (02) 8005 1484 to obtain further guidance.