On the 19th of 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, is a New Zealand citizen and I am part of this NZ citizen population in Australia. So, to my fellow Kiwis in Australia, enjoy reading the next sections below. 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.
1. WHO ARE ELIGIBLE TO APPLY FOR THIS STREAMLINED PR VISA PATHWAY?
There are two important dates that we have to remember here: the 26th of February 2001 and the 19th of February 2016. If you arrived in Australia after the 26th of 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 the 27th of February 2001 and the 19th of 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
Financial Year Income Threshold
• Have been earning at least the income threshold (see below) a year in the last five years from the time of visa application
• Meet the health and character requirements
2. 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 the 1st of July 2017.
The visa pricing is shown below:
• Primary applicant, $3,670
• Secondary applicant (adult), $1,835
• Secondary applicant (child), $920
20% of this amount is payable upon lodgement of visa application and the remaining 80% is payable before the visa grant.
3. 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 below).
I have yet to confirm this once the new Australian citizenship legislation is released by end of 2017.
This is really an 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).