New Zealanders and Australian permanent residency

Currently New Zealanders who travel to Australia on a New Zealand passport are not required to apply for a visa before arriving in Australia.  Provided they meet certain health and character requirements, New Zealanders are granted a temporary Special Category Visa (Subclass 444) on arrival in Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement.  New Zealanders can remain in Australia on this visa for as long as they remain New Zealand citizens, but it is not a permanent visa and this can exclude New Zealanders from accessing certain government programs. 

Australian migration law does provide some concessions to our Kiwi neighbours seeking permanent residency.

Employer Sponsorship

There are certain concessions available to New Zealanders and their family members under the Subclass 186 Employer Sponsored and Subclass 187 Regional Sponsored Migration Visas.  A New Zealander who has worked for their employer for at least 2 years in the 3 years immediately before applying may be eligible for an exemption from the skill requirements for these visas.  The employee must have worked full-time for at least two years with their nominating employer in an occupation that falls on the Consolidated Skilled Occupation List. This exemption is also available to family members of New Zealanders holding a Subclass 461 NZ Family Relationship Visa.

New Zealanders and 461 Visa Holders aged over the 50-year age threshold for these visas may also access an exemption of this criterion if they have worked for their employer for at least 2 years in the past 3 years immediately before lodging the application.  This is a significant concession offered to New Zealanders as there are very few, limited exemptions to the age criterion under the employer sponsored streams and none available under the General Skilled Migration Program.

Careful assessment needs to be made of the visa applicant’s immigration history, employment duties, pay records, overseas travel, and any leave taken during the period of employment prior to commencing the application process.

New pathway for New Zealanders from 1 July 2017

From 1 July 2017, an additional pathway to permanent residency will be available to New Zealanders who arrived in Australia between 26 February 2001 and 19 February 2016 and have lived in Australia for the last five years and shown a commitment and contribution to Australia in the form of minimum taxable income of $53,900 per annum.

NZ citizens who arrived before 26 Feb 2001

New Zealanders who were living in Australia before 26 February 2001 may be eligible for Australian citizenship and may also be eligible to sponsor family members for a permanent Australian visa.

For further information or advice on skilled or family migration options for New Zealand citizens or their family members, please don’t hesitate to contact the Visa Executive Team.


Written by: Sarah Loch-Wilkinson 10 February 2017

Solicitor & Migration Agent MARN 0850888

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