A Must Read For New Zealanders Who Have Migrated to Australia

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As much as we love to play up the Australia and New Zealand rivalry, the truth is New Zealand is our closest friend and ally. We share a similar culture and values, which is why New Zealanders are so easily able to integrate into Australian society. Once upon a time New Zealand citizens could travel to Australia and automatically have the rights of a permanent resident, however this changed in 2001. Whilst New Zealand citizens can still travel to Australia and stay for as long as they want, they are still in effect temporary residents. This means they can be removed or deported from Australia at any time, and they also do not have the same rights as an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident.

What is an Eligible New Zealand Citizen?

Under the Migration Regulations 1994 an eligible New Zealand citizen is a person who arrived in Australia on a New Zealand passport and was:

  • in Australia on the 26th of February 2001, or
  • in Australia for 12 months in the 2 years immediately before the 26th of February 2001, and returned to Australia after that day, and
  • assessed as an eligible New Zealand citizen before the 26th February 2004.

What is the Advantage of Being an Eligible New Zealand Citizen?

An eligible New Zealand citizen can sponsor their partner for a partnership visa, or family members who migrate to Australia, in the same way that an Australian citizen or permanent resident can. An eligible New Zealand citizen can apply for Australian citizenship without first being a permanent resident, because by being an eligible New Zealand citizen, they are automatically classed as permanent residents.

An eligible New Zealand citizen is also defined as a protected SCV (Special Category Visa) holder under the Social Security Act 1991.

Protected SCV holders are eligible for government benefits such as:

  • Family tax benefit
  • Newborn upfront payment and newborn supplement
  • Single income family supplement
  • Child care benefit
  • Double orphan pension
  • Heath care card
  • Low income health care card
  • Foster child health care card
  • Commonwealth seniors heath card
  • Parental leave pay
  • Dad and partner pay
  • Assistance for isolated children

Subclass 444 – Special Category Visa

New Zealand citizens that first entered Australia after the 26th of February 2001 are automatically granted a Subclass 444 Special Category Visa. Whilst this doesn’t provide the holder with the same rights as an ‘eligible New Zealand citizen’, it still allows the holder to live and work in Australia for as long as they wish to.

Subclass 444 Special Category Visa holder may also be eligible for the following benefits if they have lived in Australia continuously for at least 10 years:

  • Newstart Allowance
  • Sickness Allowance
  • Youth Allowance

Subclass 461 – New Zealand Family Relationship Visa

Family members of New Zealand citizens may be eligible for a Subclass 461 New Zealand Family Relationship Visa. This is a temporary visa which allows the holder to live and work in Australia for up to 5 years.

To be eligible an applicant must:

  • be a ‘member of the family unit’ (Spouse, de facto partner, child or step child) of the New Zealand citizen
  • the New Zealand citizen family member must hold a Subclass 444 visa, or be eligible for a Subclass 444 visa upon arrival to Australia
  • the New Zealand citizen family member must not be an ‘eligible New Zealand citizen’ as defined above
  • meet the relevant health requirements
  • meet the relevant character requirements

For persons who currently hold or have previously held a Subclass 461 Visa, in some cases it’s possible to apply for another Subclass 461 Visa, even if the relationship with the New Zealand family member has broken down.

Subclass 189 – Skilled Independent Visa (New Zealand Stream)

The Australian Government recently introduced a new path to permanent residency specially for New Zealand citizens. The Subclass 189 Skilled Independent Visa (New Zealand Stream) is a permanent visa which allows the holder to live and work in Australia permanently.

To be eligible an applicant must:

  • hold a Subclass 444 Visa
  • have been usually resident in Australia continuously for 5 years
  • have started residency in Australia on or before 19 February 2016
  • have a taxable income at or above an income threshold (currently $53,900 per annum) for each of the four income years prior to lodgement 

A member of the family unit may also apply for the Subclass 189 Visa as a secondary applicant.  

Australian Citizenship

The Subclass 189 Visa is a good option because it now provides certain New Zealand citizens with an easier path to Australia citizenship.

To be eligible an applicant must:

  • be a permanent resident at the time of application and at the time of decision
  • have lived in Australia on a valid visa for four years before making the application
  • have been a permanent resident for 12 months immediately before making the application
  • not have been absent from Australia for more than 12 months during the 4 year period before application
  • not have been absent from Australia for more than 90 days during the 12 month period before application
  • have a basic knowledge of the English language
  • meet the relevant character requirements
  • intend to reside or maintain a close and continuing association with Australia
  • have adequate knowledge or responsibilities and privileges of Australia citizenship

Children under 16 years under the care of the applicant may also be included in the citizenship application if they are permanent residents. Children under 16 do not need to meet the residence requirements.

Are you a New Zealand citizen interested in becoming an Australian permanent resident?

Are you an Australian permanent resident interested in becoming an Australian citizen?

Are you a New Zealand Special Category Visa holder interested in bringing your partner or child to Australia?

Are you looking for a Migration Agent in Melbourne?