Australian permanent residency for New Zealand citizens
A new migration pathway for New Zealand Citizens has been announced, and is due to come into effect from 1 July 2017.
New Zealand citizens are currently able to remain indefinitely in Australia with full work rights on Special Category Subclass 444 visas. However, since 2001 they are not considered permanent residents and are not eligible for Australian citizenship.
The new pathway makes it possible for NZ citizens who have lived in Australia for 5 years and who have been earning taxable income in Australia to qualify for permanent residence.
Whilst this is great news for NZ citizens living in Australia, the implementation may adversely affect people applying for General Skilled Migration.
189 Visa New Zealand stream requirements
A new stream will be introduced to the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa. Legislation have passed through parliament on 18/05/2017 and the requirements are clear:
- There is no age limit for primary applicant
- Primary 189 NZ stream visa applicant must be a holder of 444 special category visa
- Secondary applicants (immediate family members) might be a holder of any substantive visa, BVA, BVB or BVC
- Primary visa applicant must have been usually resident in Australia for a continuous period of at least 5 years immediately before the date of visa application.
- Primary applicant must have arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 but before 20 February 2016 (NZ citizens who were living in Australia before 26 February 2001 might be considered “eligible New Zealand citizen” and might be eligible for citizenship straight away)
- Primary applicant must have earned taxable income at or above the TSMIT (Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold – currently $53,900) for last 4 financial years within 5 years period of residence in Australia
- Copies of tax liability in relation to the 4 most recently completed income years before the date of the application (during the period of 5 years immediately before that date) will have to be provided, so despite visa will be available from 01/07/2017 application will have to be lodged once a tax return for FY16/17 will be acknowledged by ATO.
- All family members will have to meet health and character requirements
In very limited circumstances a waiver might be available for the taxable income requirement – for example, primary carers of children who are unable to return to New Zealand due to custody or access issues.
There is no capping or occupation ceiling for 189 NZ stream, it should stay as part of migration program for years. If you do not qualify yet you might become eligible in next couple of years, so “sweet as Bro”!
Concession on Visa Application Fee
The visa application fee will be the same as for another subclass 189 applicants. However, New Zealanders applying under the new pathway will only have to pay 20% of the application fees of lodgement, with the remainder payable before visa grant. From 01/07/2017 189 visa fees will increase slightly and will be as follow:
- Primary applicant: $3,670
- Adult dependent: $1,835
- Child Dependent (each): $920
Are you ready to apply for 189 NZ stream visa?
There is a lot of documents which will have to be submitted to the department of immigration with a visa application and the fees for a visa are rather high. I guess you would like to maximize your chances for a visa grant, so take this opportunity and let me take care of your visa application. For a limited time, I have dropped Migration Agent fee for 189 NZ stream visa to $1500 (conditions apply). For this fee, I’ll guide you through the whole process and will deal on your behalf with a department of immigration. Please answer the questions below and we’ll get back to you.
Impact on Migration Program
Skilled Independent applicants currently need to meet a range of criteria that applicants in the NZ citizen stream would not – namely:
- Skills Assessment in an occupation on the Skilled Occupations List
- English Language Testing
- Passing the skilled migration points test
- Receiving an invitation via SkillSelect
- Paying the full application fees at lodgement
- Maximum age limit of 49
There is virtually no commonality with the proposed NZ citizen stream, so the rationale for including it within the Skilled Independent subclass is not clear. There is a possibility for applicants who do meet the demanding requirements for skilled independent migration to be disadvantaged if NZ citizen applicants receive priority, but would that be a concern for New Zealanders?
There may be 60-70,000 New Zealanders who may be eligible for the new stream – as there are only 44,000 places available for the skilled independent subclass each year, this may mean it will be more competitive to obtain an invitation for a subclass 189 visa. The impact is likely to be significant in the first few years as New Zealanders who were previously not eligible for permanent residence make applications. The impact is likely to decline thereafter.
As the New Zealanders need to have been resident for the last 5 years in Australia, there would be no impact on Net Overseas Migration. We would argue that the new stream should operate outside the Migration Program, or at least should not count towards the quota for the 189 program. This would allow New Zealanders to apply without restriction, but limit the impact on others seeking to apply for Skilled Migration.
If you are not eligible for 189 NZ stream there might be the other options available as for any other nationalities, such as:
- 189 / 190 / 489 skilled stream
- ENS visa (there are special provisions for New Zealanders within ENS visa program)
- RSMS visa
- Family visas
If you would like advice on your migration options, please book a consultation with one of our migration advisors
Feel free to ask a question or share your thoughts in comments below.