On 19 February 2016, the Australian Government announced the introduction of a streamlined pathway leading to permanent residency for New Zealanders in Australia, in recognition of the special bilateral relationship between Australia and New Zealand. Following the announcement, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has introduced a New Zealand stream (NZ Stream) within the existing Skilled – Independent (subclass 189) visa, which comes into effect as of 1 July 2017.
The new NZ Stream is for Special Category Visa (SCV) (subclass 444) holders who have been “usually resident” in Australia for a continuous period of 5 years, commenced on or before 19 February 2016 and have a taxable income at or above a specified income threshold, in the previous 5 years prior to lodging an application, unless limited exemption applies.
In determining whether one was ‘usually resident’, the DIBP will take into account their physical presence (e.g. where the person eats, sleeps and has a home) and their intention to make that place their home.
Contrary to the 189 visa points-tested stream, the NZ Stream has the following advantages:
The new arrangements are in alignment with the Trans-Tasman efforts to facilitate a free flow of people between Australia and New Zealand.
According to the DIBP, there were more than 640,770 New Zealand citizens residing in Australia on 30 June 2013 who may now be eligible for permanent residency through the NZ Stream.
The DIBP further notes that those who are granted this visa will be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after a period of 12 months (in addition to the 5 years as an eligible SCV visa holder).
Contact SCA Connect today for an expert advice on strategic visa solutions to address the recent and upcoming legislative changes to migration.