Australian government announce additional pathway to permanent residence for New Zealanders
The Australian government has announced an additional pathway to permanent residence, and therefore citizenship, for some New Zealand non-protected special category visa (SCV) holders. The additional visa pathway is expected to be available from 1 July 2017.
Who is eligible?
To be eligible for the new visa pathway, the primary applicant must:
- be a non-protected Special Category Visa holder
- have arrived in Australia after 26th February 2001, but on or before 19th February 2016
- have been resident in Australia for the five years immediately prior to applying
- have earned at least $53,900 in each of the five years, demonstrated by income tax returns
- meet the standard health, character and security checks.
So far there is no mention of any age restriction but this could change. Other visas within the General Skilled Migration (GSM) stream have an upper age limit of 50 years.
The primary applicant can include their partner and dependent children on the application. Their partner and children only need to meet the health, character and security checks.
Exemptions to the income threshold
There are limited exemptions to the income requirement, particularly for vulnerable New Zealand citizens. Details are still to be confirmed, but may include the primary care giver of children, who cannot return to New Zealand with their children due to a court order.
If an applicant has been on maternity/paternity leave during the qualifying period, and their income fell below the required threshold, that may be taken into account.
Details of income concessions, announced on 17 February 2017, in relation to carers and people who have a workplace injury are still to be confirmed.
Full details of how applications for exemptions to the income test will be assessed are still being determined.
The Visa Application Charge (VAC) for the new visa will be:
- primary applicant $3,600
- partner $1,800
- each dependent child aged 18-24 $1,800
- each child under 18 $900
Applicants will only have to pay 20 percent of the VAC when they lodge their application, with the remainder to be paid before the visa is granted.
This new visa does not impact on New Zealanders eligibility for a Resident Return Visa. However, if you need to sponsor family, especially a child about to start university, you must consider whether RRV or the new visa is best for your circumstances.
Fees for RRV and sponsorship:
- RRV application fee $360
- partner sponsorship fee $6,865
- dependent child, included on the partner application, $3,435 if aged 18 to 24, and $1,720 if aged under 18
- If you are only sponsoring a dependent child/children the fee is $2,370 per child
Dependent child definition
A child is deemed to be dependent if they are single, dependent on the sponsoring parent, and either:
- aged under 18; or
- a student aged between 18 and 25 who commenced full time study no more than six months after leaving school; or
- 18 or older and unable to work due to a disability.
If you are a protected special category visa-holder you can apply for citizenship, provided you have resided in Australia for four years immediately prior to applying. Refer to Your Australian Citizenship Options for more information.
More information about the additional pathway to permanent residence is available on the Department of Immigration website.