On 19 February 2016, the Australian government announced a simplified pathway for New Zealand citizens to gain Australian Permanent Residency. New Zealand citizens are electronically issued a temporary visa (Special Category Visa – SCV subclass 444) on arrival in Australia. This visa gives NZ citizens unrestricted work rights and unlimited stay in Australia.
There are 677,030 New Zealand citizens in Australia as of September 2016 according to the Temporary entrants and New Zealand citizens in Australia report issued by the Department of Immigration. I, myself, am a New Zealand citizen and I am part of this NZ citizen population in Australia. This article will cover the usual questions about this new legislation such as who are eligible, which visa subclass can the NZ citizens apply for (including the costs and when this new visa will become available), the new visa requirements and the implication on future Australian citizenship application.
Who are eligible to apply for this streamlined PR visa pathway?
There are two important dates that we have to remember here: 26 February 2001 and 19 February 2016. If you arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001, then you need to apply for a PR visa to be eligible for Australian citizenship. If you arrived before this date, then you can be eligible for Australian citizenship as you are automatically considered as an Australian PR.
If you arrived in Australia between 27 February 2001 and 19 February 2016, you can be eligible for the streamlined PR visa pathway if you:
- Have resided in Australia for at least five years at the time of visa application
- Have been earning at least the income threshold a year in the last five years from the time of visa application
- Meet the health and character requirements
Which visa subclass should NZ Citizens apply for?
The Skilled Independent 189 subclass was updated to include the New Zealand stream. This stream will be available from 1 July 2017.
The visa pricing include:
- Primary applicant, $3,670
- Secondary applicant (adult), $1,835
- Secondary applicant (child), $920
Twenty percent of this amount is payable upon lodgement of visa application and the remaining 80% is payable before the visa grant.
What’s the implication of this new visa to my future Australian citizenship application?
According to the Department of Immigration’s website, NZ citizens who are granted a 189 visa are eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after 12 months of 189 visa grant (see link)
I have yet to confirm this once the new Australian citizenship legislation is released by end of 2017.
This is really exciting news for Kiwis on SCV 444 visa as this new legislation has easier requirements than the current option of applying for PR visa under General Skilled Migration- GSM (this is points tested and not many of the 670,000 Kiwis in Australia can qualify). This new visa does not have age, qualification, English level and work experience requirements. On top of this, Kiwis are given payment terms on the Visa Application Charge (this payment terms do not exist on the 189 visa Points Tested stream and other GSM PR visas).
(Johanna Bertumen Nonato is a Registered Migration Agent (MARN 1386856) and the CEO of BridgeAus Migration Consultancy (with offices in Melbourne, Australia and Makati, Philippines). For enquiries, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0427-589274).