Visa Options for NZ Citizens
By Mark Webster
Friday, 02 June 2017
NZ Citizens on Special Category VisasIf you are an NZ citizen, you would generally receive a Special Category Subclass 444 Visa (or SCV) on arrival to Australia. Whilst this visa allows you to remain in Australia indefinitely with full work rights, it is considered a temporary visa only and is subject to some serious limitations. If you are convicted of an offence requiring imprisonment of at least 12 months, you would be considered a "Behaviour Concern Non-Citizen". This would result in you being ineligible for the SCV, and potentially barred from entering Australia. NZ citizens are now the largest single nationality in immigration detention, due largely to character issues. New Zealand citizens are eligible for some government payments (eg Medicare, certain Centrelink payments). However, they are not eligible for others - such as unemployment benefits or HECS-HELP loans for university education. NZ citizens are not in general eligible for Australian citizenship, and so are not eligible to vote in Australia and certain jobs will not be open to them. They are also not able to sponsor relatives for permanent visas such as partner. or parent visas.
NZ Citizens Settled in Australia Prior to 26 Feb 2001If you were present in Australia prior to 26 February 2001, or had settled here before that date, you are considered an "Eligible New Zealand Citizen". In this case, you would have the same rights as an Australian Permanent Resident in terms of social security benefits, Australian citizenship and ability to sponsor relatives.
New PR Pathway for NZ CitizensA new pathway to permanent residence for NZ citizens will be available from 1 July 2017. This will be open to NZ citizens who have been living and working in Australia for 5 years. This will be an attractive option for many NZ citizens living in Australia as there are concessions on the usual application fee, English language requirement and health requirement. However, it is only available if you were usually resident in Australia as of 19 February 2016.
Employer Nomination SchemeThe Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) is a permanent employer sponsored visa which has concessions for NZ citizens working in Australia. There is a specific pathway for NZ citizens who have worked for their Australian employer in an occupation on the Employer Sponsored Occupations List for 2 of the last 3 years. In this case, you are exempt from the usual skills assessment requirement for the Direct Entry ENS stream, and also the usual age requirement (currently the maximum age limit is 50 for the ENS visa).
General Skilled MigrationNZ citizens may consider the General Skilled Migration program. This option would require you to pass skills assessment, meet the pass mark of 60 points, and receive an invitation through SkillSelect. There are no specific concessions for NZ citizens applying for General Skilled Migration, though mutual recognition of registration between NZ and Australia may make the skills assessment requirement easier to meet.
Partner MigrationIf you have a partner who is an:
- Eligible NZ citizen; or
- Australian permanent resident; or
- Australian citizen
They may be able to sponsor you for a partner visa. This would lead to permanent residence, and this is generally a 2-stage process over a period of 2 years.