Commencing 1 July 2017, the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) was split into two streams – points tested and New Zealand.
The criteria under the New Zealand stream are as follows:
- Main applicant is at least 18 years of age
- Main applicant is a New Zealand citizen and is holding a subclass 444 (special category) visa
- Applicant usually resident in Australia from a continuous period of at least 5 years immediately before the date of application
- Continuous period of usual residence in Australia started on or before 19 February 2016
- Applicant must provide copies of notices of assessment and any notices of amended assessments of the applicant’s income tax liability in relation to the 4 most recently completed income years before the date of application. The tax file number (TFN) may be removed from the notices
- Applicant must meet a minimum taxable income. There will be a class of applicants exempt from meeting this requirement
- Meet health and character requirements
- Secondary applicants must be on a substantive visa or a bridging visa A, B or C
The minimum income that the New Zealand applicant must have met each income year is:
Completed Income Year
2011 to 2012
2012 to 2013
2013 to 2014
2014 to 2015
2015 to 2016
2016 to 2017
A minimum of 4 Notice of Assessments (NoAs) from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) from the 5 income years prior to applying for a New Zealand stream 189 visa will need to be submitted. The TFN number may be removed or obscured.
Classes of exempt applicants
The applicant must hold a Special Category visa (subclass 444). There are three classes of applicants who may be eligible for exemption on meeting the minimum income threshold.
Assigned primary care of a child
The applicant has been unable to meet the minimum income requirement for any period in the 5 years before the time of application for a New Zealand stream 189 visa because they were prevented from leaving Australia to return to New Zealand having been assigned primary care of the applicant’s child by the Family Court of Australia, and the order has restrictions on removing the child from Australia.
The applicant must provide documentation of the parenting order or produce a written parenting plan that has been signed by both parents, assigning primary care of the child to the applicant.
Receiving compensation for an injury
The applicant has been unable to meet the minimum income requirement for any period in the 5 years before the time of application for a New Zealand stream 189 visa because they were receiving compensation for an injury which prevented them from earning at or above the income threshold and if the applicant returned to New Zealand, their ongoing rehabilitation and/or compensation would cease.
Documents to support this exemption include a statutory declaration from the applicant detailing the circumstances, a statutory declaration from the employer advising on the applicant’s date of return to work and income amount, medical certificate(s), official compensation documents and official rehabilitation documents.
Parental or carer’s leave
The applicant has been unable to meet the minimum income requirement for any period in the 5 years before the time of application for a New Zealand stream 189 visa because they have been an approved period of parental (maternity and paternity) or carer’s leave from their usual employment and prior to the period of leave, the applicant’s annual income meets the income threshold. The applicant has or will resume employment within a reasonable period and will be earning at or above the income threshold.
Evidence that will support this exemption would include a statutory declaration from the applicant detailing the circumstances, a statutory declaration from the employer advising on the applicant’s date of return to work and income amount, the child’s birth certificate and a medical certificate for carer responsibilities
New Zealand citizens who are granted a permanent resident visa for Australia would be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after 12 months of being a permanent resident. Thankfully, this residence requirement will not be changing if the much debated citizenship Bill is passed. In addition, New Zealand citizens are taken to have competent English and will not need to provide evidence as to meeting the English requirement.
The rules for New Zealand citizens have changed a multitude of times over the years and is an applicant looking to gain permanent or citizenship status in Australia is largely affected by when they were born or arrived in Australia. For most current applicants however, the ‘streamlined’ route, as the government is calling it, is to attain the New Zealand stream 189 visa and to apply for citizenship after a year.
Other means of being a permanent resident as a New Zealand citizen include:
- If the person presented a valid New Zealand passport and a completed passenger card when they entered Australia (with some exceptions) and were in Australia on 26 February 2001 as the holder of a Special Category visa (subclass 444) or
- were outside Australia on 26 February 2001, but were in Australia as the holder of a Special Category visa (subclass 444) for a period totalling not less than one year in the two years immediately before that date or
- do not fall within the above two categories but have a Centrelink certificate, issued under the Social Security Act 1991, that states that they were, for the purposes of that Act, residing in Australia on a particular date
People eligible for a Centrelink certificate were New Zealand citizens who:
- were existing recipients of social security payments who were outside Australia on 26 February 2001 but returned within 26 weeks of that date or
- arrived to reside in Australia between 27 February 2001 and 25 May 2001 (inclusive) and had a Centrelink certificate certifying that they had, under the Social Security Act, established residence in Australia or
- are part of a very small group who established permanent residence in Australia but were unable to be physically present in Australia in the three months immediately following 26 February 2001 and who applied to Centrelink by 26 February 2002. For example, this group includes business people, church workers and aid workers who would have experienced hardship if they had to return by 26 May 2001.
New Zealand citizen born in Australia? A child born in Australia on or after 27 February 2001 to a New Zealand citizen parent is not an Australian citizen by birth unless the New Zealand citizen parent:
- held an Australian permanent visa
- was a dual Australian-New Zealand citizen
- was covered by the transitional arrangements for the 26 February 2001 changes
- were in Australia as the holder of a SCV for a period or period totalling 12 months in the two years immediately prior to 26 February 2001 or
- have a Centrelink certificate stating that they were residing in Australia on a particular date for the purposes of the Social Security Act
Under the new citizenship Bill which has yet to be passed, if the child’s parents do not meet the above requirements, the child born in Australia may obtain citizenship on their 10th birthday if they have being ordinarily resident in Australia. The parents must hold a substantive visa at the time of the child’s birth, and the parent entered Australia before the person’s birth, and at any time during the period beginning on the parent’s last entry into Australia and ending on the day of the person’s birth, the parent was not present in Australia as an unlawful noncitizen. Under current rules, the parents immigration or citizenship status does not matter.