A great change for New Zealand citizens with the proposed introduction of an additional pathway for New Zealand citizens to be come Australian citizens.
At present, non-eligible New Zealand citizens are granted a Special Category Visa, subclass 444 (SCV) when they arrive in Australia. This SCV allows New Zealand citizens to remain indefinitely in Australia subject to the person continuing to be a New Zealand citizen. While in Australia the SCV doesn’t have work nor study restriction and the New Zealand Citizen may be entitled to Medicare and some social security benefits. However, the SCV is a temporary visa and expires once you leave Australia. It does not provide a direct pathway to permanent residence or Australian citizenship.
The planned direct pathway to Australian citizenship for New Zealand citizens can be summarised as follows:
- The commencement date is proposed to be 1 July 2017
- The New Zealand citizen must have been resident in Australia for the five years immediately prior to the visa is lodged
- The New Zealand citizen must have contributed to Australia, demonstrated through income tax returns (Notice of Assessment) for the period of residence evidencing taxable income at or above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), currently AUD$53,900 plus superannuation
- The New Zealand citizen is required to satisfy mandatory health, character, and security checks
- The DIBP visa application charges (VAC) is expected to be consistent with General Skilled Migration Programme: AUD$3,600 per primary applicant with an additional AUD$1,800 for partners, AUD$1,800 per dependent child over 18 and AUD$900 per child under 18
- 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