Australia – Residence exemption for NZ citizens from 1 July 2017

The Australian Government announced on 19 February that as of I July 2017, there will be a separate pathway for New Zealand citizens to apply for residency and then Australian citizenship.

Who is eligible?

New Zealand Special Category visa (SCV) holders who arrived after 26 February 2001, who have lived in Australia for the last five years  and were in Australia on 19 February 2016.

What are the requirements ?

The pathway will be made available within the Skilled Independent category of the General Skilled Migration (GSM) stream of Australia's annual Migration Programme.  This means that it will not be company sponsored.

The New Zealand citizen must have earned the minimum of the Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) as evidenced by their Australian Taxation Office Notice of Assessment throughout their qualifying residence period, to apply for permanent residency and thereafter citizenship.​  This amount is currently $53,900

The New Zealand citizen must have been resident in Australia for the five years immediately prior to visa application

The New Zealand and their accompanying family must all meet the health and character tests

The visa application charge will be consistent with the General Skilled Migration Programme which is currently  AUD3,600 per primary applicant with an additional AUD1,800 for partners, AUD1,800 per dependent child over 18 and AUD900 per child under 18

Steps to become an Australian citizen

New Zealanders taking advantage of this pathway will usually be able to apply for citizenship after one year of permanent residence, provided they meet the allowab​​le overseas absences requirement.   This requirement means, a person must not have been absent from Australia for more than one year in total in the four year period, including no more than 90 days in the year before applying

The usual citizenship eligibility requirements will apply such as:

  • ​be of good character if 18 years of age or over
  • be likely to reside, or continue to reside, or maintain a close and continuing relationship to Australia
  • pass the citizenship test if aged between 18 and 59 years or pass a citizenship interview.

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