New Zealanders applying for 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 position of New Zealanders who seek citizenship through other visa pathways, including those who have already been granted permanent visas is, however, still not entirely clear.
Before applying for a Resident Return Visa (RRV), or the NZ 189 visa, you must to consider your family situation, cost and processing times for each visa and citizenship. Citizenship applications take 9 to 12 months to be processed, including attending your ceremony.
Do you need to sponsor family members? Are your children about to start university?
Resident Return Visa
If you entered Australia as a New Zealand citizen prior to 1 September 1994 you are eligible to apply for a Resident Return Visa (RRV) provided you are now residing in Australia.
It can take up to 12 weeks to be processed if you haven’t held a permanent visa for two of the last five years. The SCV is a temporary visa.
Fees for RRV and sponsorship:
- RRV application fee $365
- partner sponsorship fee $7,000
- dependent child, included on the partner application, $3,505 if aged 18 to 24, and $1,755 if aged under 18
- If you are only sponsoring a dependent child/children the fee is $2,415 per child
NZ 189 visa
The new permanent visa for New Zealanders, available from 1 July 2017, is called the Skilled Independent 189 (New Zealand) Stream. The Department of Home Affairs aim to process 90 per cent of New Zealand 189 visa applications within nine months.
To be eligible for the new visa pathway the primary applicant must:
- be a non-protected special category visa holders (SCVs); and
- have commenced residing in Australia on or before 19th February 2016; and
- have resided in Australia for the five years immediately prior to applying; and
- have either earned the taxable income threshold OR meet the criteria for an income exemption; and
- meet the standard health, character and security checks.
The primary applicant can include their partner and dependent children on the application. Partners and children only need to meet the health, character and security checks.
Fees for the new visa:
- $3,670 primary applicant
- $1,835 partner
- $1,835 each dependent child aged 18-22
- $920 each child under 18
New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa (461)
Family relationship 461 visas are only granted to family members of Special Category Visa holders. Once you become a permanent resident you cannot renew a 461 visa. You will need to sponsor your partner or dependent children for a permanent visa when their current 461 visa is due to expire.
If your child is due to begin university in the next couple of years bear in mind that becoming a permanent resident means they cannot access a HELP loan until they become a citizen.
You must decide what is best option for your family given the cost, time taken to process the new visa, be granted citizenship including attending a citizenship ceremony.
Once you are granted a permanent visa you can apply for citizenship after 12 months, provided you have resided in Australia for four years immediately prior to applying. It can take 13 to 15 months or more for applications to be approved and attend a citizenship ceremony.
The following processing times are from Immigration’s website and subject to change:
- Resident Return Visa – 6 to 43 days
- Partner sponsor visa – 20 to 24 months
- Child sponsor visa – 12 to 13 months
- Family Relationship visa – 14 to 23 months
- Citizenship, including attending a ceremony, 13 to 15 months
- New Zealand 189 visa, unknown but applicants have waited up to 7 to 8 months
Apply for citizenship, please note you must be a Protected Special Category Visa-holder or permanent visa-holder in order to apply for citizenship.
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