permanent residence visa

Australia launches new citizenship option for New Zealanders

by Ray Clancy on July 3, 2017

in New Zealand

New Zealand citizens living in Australia now have the option of an extra pathway available to them to become permanent residents.

The new pathway will be available to Special Category Visa (SCV) holders who were resident in Australia on or before the 19 February 2016 and who, at the time of lodging an application, had been living in Australia for at least five years.

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It is available via the Skilled Independent (subclass189) visa which will have two streams, the Skilled Independent 189 stream which is points tested and the Skilled Independent 189 (New Zealand) stream.

Applicants will need to meet certain criteria, including contributing to Australia, demonstrated through income tax returns which show taxable income at least equivalent to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) for the qualifying period and meeting mandatory health, character and security checks.

New Zealand citizens who are granted this visa will be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after a period of 12 months, in addition to the five years as an eligible New Zealand SCV holder.

New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English welcomed the launch of the new option. ‘Many hard-working Kiwis have made Australia their home, and in doing so have been making a significant contribution to Australia’s society,’ he said.

‘I am pleased that the Australian Government recognises the value of this contribution and has delivered on its commitment to make it easier for eligible New Zealanders to apply for citizenship,’ he added.

‘Applying for Australian citizenship does not mean losing New Zealand citizenship. It simply means they can enjoy the same rights and entitlements as other Australians. The pathway provides eligible Kiwis the chance to regularise their status in Australia and help ensure their partners and children can play a full part in Australian life,’ he pointed out.

‘Not all New Zealanders living in Australia will be eligible for the pathway and our Government remains committed to discussing issues faced by those New Zealanders on non-protected special category visas,’ he explained.

Applicants will need to have a taxable income at or above an income threshold for each income year in the five years prior to lodging an application. The income threshold is currently set at A$53,900.

Applications for permanent residence will cost A$3,670 for a primary applicant, A$1,835 for an adult dependent, and $A920 for a child dependent. At the time of lodgement only 20% of the total visa application charge needs to be paid. The remaining 80% must be paid before it is granted.

It is thought that more than half of New Zealanders who arrived between 26 February 2001 and 19 February 2016 in Australia and have been resident for over five years will be eligible for citizenship through the pathway.

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