The Australian Government announced on 19th February that, as of 1st July 2017, there will be a separate pathway for New Zealand citizens to apply for permanent residency and then Australian citizenship.
Who is Eligible?
New Zealand Special Category Visa (SCV) holders who arrived after 26th February 2001, who have lived in Australia for the last five years and were in Australia on 19th February 2016.
The SCV is a temporary visa which allows New Zealand citizens to enter, stay, work and study in Australia, but without the rights and benefits of permanent residents or citizens of Australia.
What are the Requirements?
The pathway will be made available within the Skilled Independent category of the General Skilled Migration (GSM) stream of Australia’s annual Migration Programme. This means that it will not be company sponsored.
The New Zealand national must have earned the minimum of the Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) as evidenced by their Australian Taxation Office Notice of Assessment throughout their qualifying residence period, to apply for permanent residency and thereafter citizenship. This amount is currently AUD53,900.
The New Zealand national must have been resident in Australia for the five years immediately prior to the visa application.
The New Zealand national and their accompanying family must all meet the health and character tests.
The visa application charge will be consistent with the General Skilled Migration Programme which is currently AUD3600 per primary applicant with an additional AUD1800 for partners, AUD1800 per dependent child over 18 and AUD900 per child under 18.
Steps to Becoming an Australian Citizen
New Zealanders taking advantage of this pathway will usually be able to apply for citizenship after one year of permanent residence, provided they meet the allowable overseas absences requirement.
This requirement means that a person must not have been absent from Australia for more than one year in total in the four year period, including no more than 90 days in the year before applying.
The usual citizenship eligibility requirements will apply, such as:
being of good character if 18 years of age or above;
being likely to reside, or continue to reside, or maintain a close and continuing relationship with Australia; passing the citizenship test if aged between 18 and 59 years of age, or pass a citizenship review.
Qualifying New Zealand nationals should consider this route to Australian permanent residency and possibly citizenship.
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