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This Instrument creates a new stream in the Subclass 189 Skilled – Independent visa that allows New Zealand (NZ) citizens, who meet the regulatory requirements, to be granted Australian permanent residency.
Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 of the new NZ visa stream are included in this Instrument.
The main features of the ‘New Zealand stream’ are:
- The primary applicant must hold a Subclass 444 Special Category visa. Secondary applicants must hold a substantive visa or Bridging Visas A, B or C.
- The applicant must have been usually resident in Australia, on or before 16 February 2016, for a continuous period for at least five years immediately before the date of application.
- This stream is subject to PIC 4007, which allows health waiver requests to be made to the Minister.
- The visa application charges will be paid in two instalments.
The applicant’s taxable income for four of the five most recently completed income tax years, is required to be no less than a minimum amount specified in a legislative instrument.
The initial amounts for the following financial years will be:
2012/13 – $51,000
2013/14 – $53,900
2014/15 – $53,900
2015/16 – $53,900
2016/17 – $53,900
This New Zealand stream visa will become available from 1 July 2017.
As part of its commitment to addressing family violence in the Australian community, the federal government introduced a requirement in November 2016 for all Australian sponsors of Partner applications to undergo a character check. The check involves the presentation of an Australian national police certificate and where appropriate, an overseas penal clearance.
The sponsor character check is a prerequisite to approval of the sponsorship under Regulation 1.20KC and precedes the commencement of an assessment of the visa application. There is currently no impediment to the visa applicant lodging the visa application simultaneously with the sponsorship under Schedule 1, avoiding the risk of becoming unlawful.
The sponsorship caseload on hand is approximately 8,000 of which 6,000 have not yet been actioned. The average processing time for the sponsorship check is approximately six months. The Sponsorship Assessment Unit is currently assessing cases lodged in December 2016.
For countries where a DIBP letter of request is required to authorise an overseas police authority to conduct a check, the letter will be sent to the applicant when the sponsorship is actioned. Given the extended processing times for Partner applications, there should be adequate time for overseas police checks to be obtained prior to the visa application being assessed.
New applications to certify positions for the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme are being accepted for the following regions in the State:
- Great Southern;
- Mid West;
- South West; and
New applications for the Perth region remain suspended.
More information is available at the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme page.
On 3 March 2016, the Australian government announced a special fast-track pathway to permanent residence, and then citizenship, for New Zealand Special Category visa (SCV) holders who have lived in Australia for the last five years and shown a commitment and contribution to Australia.
Beginning 1 July 2017, this additional visa pathway will be available to New Zealand citizens who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001, but on or before the date of the announcement, 19 February 2016. Under this scheme, tens of thousands of New Zealanders already living in Australia will soon be able to apply for citizenship.
The pathway will be made available within the Skilled Independent category of the General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa program.
SCV holders who:
- have been living in Australia for the past five years immediately prior to visa application;
- have earned income at or above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold ‘TSMIT’ (currently $53,900) as evidenced by their income tax returns (Notice of Assessment) throughout their qualifying residence period; and
- pass mandatory health, character and security checks
will be eligible to apply for permanent residency. (The TSMIT is a government-set threshold ensuring visa holders have sufficient income to independently provide for themselves in Australia.)
New Zealanders taking advantage of this pathway will then usually be able to apply for citizenship after one year of permanent residence, provided they meet the usual citizenship eligibility requirements.
More information on this fast-tracked pathway is available at the DIBP’s website.
If you are working in Australia and interested in finding out more about pathways to permanent residency, get in touch with Sanling today.