Why New Zealanders would apply for a permanent residency in Australia
Australian permanent residency for New Zealand citizens. New Zealand citizens can come to Australia and remain here indefinitely with full work rights as holders of a Special Category Subclass 444 visas. Usually, there is no need to apply for a 444 visa before embarking the plane as this visa is granted on arrival. So why New Zealanders would apply for an Australian permanent residency at all? There are few reasons:
- although New Zealanders are eligible for Medicare in Australia, they are not eligible for any social benefits from Centrelink such as welfare payments, unemployment or sickness benefits, or disaster relief
- New Zealand citizens can’t get student loans to study in Australia (there are some exemptions)
- New Zealanders can’t take the jobs where a person must be an Australian Citizen or permanent resident. Even being a postie in Australia is not an option for a Kiwi.
- New Zealanders can’t take a job in an Australian Army or Australian Government
- Kids of NZ can’t represent Australia in international competitions
- If a family member is not a New Zealand citizen they must apply and renew now and then their temporary New Zealand dependent visa
- New Zealanders can’t vote in Australia
- and so on…
For most of our New Zealand client’s, it’s about their own security and future of their children. Kids can be included in their parents’ application as dependents and this way they can become a PR in Australia. Once kids will finish their school and start working, they’ll have to apply for their own permanent residency visa, which may be difficult if not impossible.
Former Permanent Resident
New Zealanders who travelled to Australia for any reason before 1 September 1994 were regarded as ‘exempt non-citizens’ under Australian migration law and are now considered to be ‘former permanent residents’.
If you visited Australia as an NZ citizen before this date, you can apply to the Department of Home Affairs to have your permanent resident status reinstated. This is done by applying for a Resident Return Visa (RRV).
If RRV granted, then after a year you may become eligible for a Citizenship
Eligible New Zealand Citizens
Kiwis who were in Australia on 26 of February 2001 are considered as Eligible New Zealand Citizens and might be eligible for Australian citizenship if they would have lived in Australia for a couple of years before applying for a citizenship. There are specific requirements which must be met.
To be considered as an Eligible New Zealand Citizen a holder of a New Zealand passport, either:
- must have been present in Australia on 26 February 2001 as SCV visa holder
- must have a certificate issued under the Social Security Act 1991 stating that they were residing in Australia on a particular date. These certificates are no longer issued.
- those who were outside Australia on 26 February 2001, but before that date were living in Australia as an SCV holder for a total of 12 months in the two years prior to that date, and then returned to Australia
Those New Zealanders who have missed the February 2001 deadline, before being eligible for Australian citizenship, must become an Australian Permanent resident, which means they must apply for an Australian permanent residency visa if they want to become an Australian citizen.
I’ll explain different Australian Permanent Residency visas available for New Zealand citizens in a moment.
Citizenship for a child born in Australia
This is an interesting one. A child born in Australia and living here all their life is becoming an Australian Citizen on their 10th birthday. Irrespectively what kind of visa they have held or if they had a visa at all. It’s an operation of law – you do not even have to apply for citizenship for your kid. You will have to apply for a citizenship confirmation, so yes – some paperwork is still required – we’re more than happy to assist.
189 Visa New Zealand stream
189 NZ visa requirements
A new stream for New Zealand citizens has been introduced to the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa.
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. Legislation has passed through parliament on 18/05/2017 and the visa criteria are:
- 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
- The 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 189 NZ visa application fee
The visa application fee is 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. As of 01/07/2017 189 visa fees are as follow:
- Primary applicant: $4,045
- Adult dependent: $2,020
- Child Dependent (each): $1,015
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. Before going ahead with 189 we’ll check if there aren’t other options for you and your family to become Australian PR.
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 (186 visa) (there are special provisions for New Zealanders within ENS and RSMS visa programs)
- RSMS visa (187 visa)
- Family visas (partner, parent, child)
- Business visas (888, 132)
If you would like advice on your migration options, please book a consultation with one of our migration advisors or give us a call.