On 19 February, the Australian Government announced the introduction of a new pathway to permanent residence for New Zealand Special Category Visa (SCV) holders. Applications will be open from 1 July 2017.
Holders of the Subclass 444 Special Category Visa (which is available to New Zealand passport holders on entry to Australia) will be eligible for permanent residence if:
They arrived after 26 February 2001 but on or before 19 February 2016; and
They have lived in Australia for the last five years and shown a commitment and contribution to Australia immediately prior to the visa application (to be shown though income tax returns); and
They meet the mandatory health, character and security checks.
The pathway will be made available through the Skilled Independent category of the General Skilled Migration Programme. It will require applicants to show income tax returns for the period of residence at or above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT). Currently the TSMIT stands at AUD53,900 per annum.
Concessions will be available to the income test requirement for vulnerable New Zealand citizens. The details, however, are expected to be released closer to the implementation date.
Once permanent residence is granted, applicants then have the option of applying for Australian citizenship. The requirements for Australian citizenship will be in accordance with the usual criteria without any concessions for New Zealand citizens.
Subclass 457 Processing Update
The Department of Immigration 457 processing centres are experiencing some processing delays in recent months.
Applications are typically taking between 3-5 weeks to process, with priority only provided in circumstances of genuine business need.
If your business will need to sponsor an employee in the coming weeks we recommend that the process is commenced as soon as possible.