Permanent Residence Pathway for New Zealand Citizens
New Zealand citizens who have lived and worked in Australia for at least 5 years have the option of applying for permanent residence through a dedicated stream of the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa.
The 189 NZ stream pathway is only available to NZ citizens who started living in Australia on or before 19 February 2016
. You will need to show that you were usually resident
at this time. If you were in Australia for a short visit for a holiday or business would not suffice. On the other hand, if you were temporarily outside Australia on 19 February but were usually resident before this, you may well be eligible.
You will need to show that you have been usually resident in Australia for a continuous period of at least 5 years
prior to applying. This continuous period of residence would need to have started on or before 19 February 2016.
Showing that you are usually resident
would normally involve 2 factors:
- Physical presence in Australia; and
- An intention to reside in Australia
Short visits outside Australia (eg holidays) would be acceptable, providing there is an intention to reside in Australia and you spend a significant amount of time in Australia. If you take up a job or permanent home outside Australia, this could affect your ability to show continuous usual residence in Australia.
You would need to have held a Special Category Visa (SCV Subclass 444) for the 5 years - this is the visa NZ citizens are usually granted on entry to Australia.
You would need to provide ATO Notices of Assessment showing that you have earned annual taxable income at least equivalent to TSMIT (Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold) for the last 5 financial years.
The TSMIT has been $53,900 since 1 July 2013.
Limited exemptions to the income requirement will apply - those currently announced include:
- Maternity, paternity or carers leave - application of this exemption is discretionary; or
- Inability to depart Australia due having been assigned primary care of a child by the Family Court of Australia and the child cannot be removed from Australia; or
- Currently receiving compensation for injury and ongoing rehabilitation or compensation would be discontinued if departing Australia
Unlike other skilled visas, there is no age limit for the NZ stream of the 189 visa, so this is a significant advantage for older applicants.
Including Family Members
Even if they are not NZ citizens, spouses and dependent children can be included in the application. If applying onshore, they must hold a substantive visa or Bridging A, B or C visa.
Health and Character Requirement
All family members included in the application must meet health and character requirements.
The waivable health criterion 4007
applies - this means that if you have a health condition which involves significant cost or use of scarce medical or community services, you can still be granted permanent residence provided the cost is not undue. For instance, if you have significant assets or solid health insurance, and can prove that you can meet your own medical costs, you may still be successful in your application.
Most other permanent visas require family unit members to complete health and character, whether they are included in the application or not. This is not the case for the 189 NZ stream pathway - only family members included
in the application need to complete health and character.
Application fees are in line with current fees for the Skilled Independent Subclass 189 visa. However, only a portion of the application fee needs to be paid at lodgement. The balance of fees would only be payable once you have met all other criteria and are likely to be granted the visa.
Unlike other permanent skilled visa types, there is no English Language Charge for applicants with less than Functional English.
For NZ citizens who were living in Australia on or before 19 February 2016, this permanent residence pathway is extremely beneficial. In particular:
- There is no English language testing, skills assessment, points test, or sponsorship by an employer
- There is no age limit
- The income level is relatively moderate - and exemptions apply for people on parenting or carer leave
- There is a health waiver for applicants and family members with health conditions
- The bulk of the application fee is only payable once the requirements have been assessed and the visa is about to be granted
New Zealand Citizens who meet the criteria should consider applying for the 189 NZ stream visa as it offers very favourable access to permanent resident status. Given the current political climate, the opportunity may only be available for a limited time.
If you would like to check your eligibility for permanent residence, please book a consultation with one of our advisors