Australian government announce additional pathway to permanent residence for New Zealanders
Prime Minister Turnbull has clarified that the new pathway to citizenship will not be affected by the changes to citizenship eligibility announced on 20 April 2017. Those who apply under this pathway should still be eligible for citizenship after one year.
The Australian government has announced an additional pathway to permanent residence, and therefore citizenship, for some New Zealand non-protected special category visa-holders (SCVs). The Skilled Independent 189 (New Zealand) Stream visa is 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 26 February 2001, but on or before 19 February 2016
- have been resident in Australia for the five years immediately prior to applying
- have earned at least $53,900 taxable income in each of the five years
- meet the standard health, character and security checks
There is no mention of a maximum age restriction when applying for the Skilled Independent 189 (New Zealand) Stream.
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 (increasing to $365 from 1 July 2017)
- partner sponsorship fee $6,865 (increasing to $7,000 from 1 July 2017)
- dependent child, included on the partner application, $3,435 if aged 18 to 24, and $1,720 if aged under 18 (increasing to $3,505 and $1,755 from 1 July 2017)
- If you are only sponsoring a dependent child/children the fee is $2,370 per child (increasing to $2,415 from 1 July 2017)
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.
Details for the new visa are still being finalised. Refer to additional pathway to permanent residence on the Department of Immigration website.
Have a question?
Phone the Department of Immigration on 13 18 81 or contact them via social media. Please do not provide your personal details on a public forum.
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The above “NZ Citizen Family Relationship Visa” information should not be relied on as an alternative to advice from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, or a professional immigration services provider.
If you have any specific questions about an immigration matter, you should consult the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or a professional immigration services provider.