Before applying for a Resident Return Visa (RRV), or the new visa option, you need to consider your family situation. 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.
You cannot include your children or partner on your RRV application, they can submit their own application if eligible. Otherwise, you’ll need to sponsor them for a permanent visa. To be sponsored, children must be aged under 25, in full time study and financially dependent upon the sponsoring parent. There must also be no more than a six month gap between leaving school and commencing full time study.
Fees for RRV and sponsorship:
- RRV application fee $360
- partner sponsor fee is $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 children the fee is $2,370 per child.
New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa (461)
Family relationship 461 visas are only for family members of Special Category Visa holders. Once you become a permanent resident, for example via a Resident Return Visa (RRV), you cannot renew a 461 visa. You will need to sponsor your family for a permanent visa when the 461 visa is due to expire.
New pathway to PR for New Zealanders
The new pathway for New Zealanders to gain permanent residence is expected to come into effect as of 1 July 2017. To be eligible for the new visa pathway, non-protected special category visa holders (SCVs) must:
- have arrived in Australia after 26th February 2001, but on or before 19th February 2016
- have been resident in Australia for the five years
- have had a taxable income of more than $53,900 in each of the last five years
- meet the standard health, character and security checks.
Fees for the new visa:
- primary applicant $3,600
- partner on the same application $1,800
- dependent children aged 18-24 $1,800
- children under 18 for $900
You will need to weigh up the cost difference between RRV (if you are eligible) and applying for the new visa – after July 2017 – and the timeline. Waiting until mid-2017, plus the visa processing time, means it will take longer for your family to become citizens.
Once you are granted RRV you can apply for citizenship after 12 months, provided you have resided in Australia for the four years prior to applying. It can take six months or more to be approved and attend a citizenship ceremony. If you are granted RRV now you could be a citizen by mid 2017.
If one of your children is due to begin university in the next couple of years then you need to consider when they are likely to start studying. Being a citizen will mean they can access HELP loans.
You will have to decide what is best for your family’s financial situation and circumstances.
Apply for citizenship, please note you must be a Protected Special Category Visa-holder or permanent visa-holder in order to apply for citizenship.