New pathway to permanent residence for NZ citizens

Posted on Jul 19, 2017 by Private: Cassandra Nix   |   Categories: Immigration Law

From 1 July 2017, New Zealand citizens who have lived and worked in Australia for at least five years may be eligible to apply for Australian permanent residence. The new pathway is available within the existing Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa program.

This is a pathway to permanent residence and citizenship for New Zealand citizens that are not eligible for Australia citizenship on the basis of having been in Australia on 26 February 2001.

The new pathway is for New Zealand Special Category (subclass 444) Visa holders who were ‘usually resident’ in Australia on or before 19 February 2016 and who, at the time of lodging an application, have resided in Australia for at least five years.

Two factors to be considered in assessing whether a NZ citizen has been ‘usually resident’ are:

  • Physical presence in Australia; and
  • An intention to reside in Australia.


NZ citizens who were in Australia for a holiday or business trip on 19 February 2016 would not be deemed to be ‘usually resident’. However, those who usually reside in Australia but who were not in the country on 19 February due to a temporary departure (for example, on holiday), may still be eligible to apply.

General eligibility requirements include the following.

  • Being a holder of a New Zealand Special Category (subclass 444) visa, the visa that most NZ citizens are automatically granted on entry to Australia.
  • Evidence of having been usually resident in Australia for a period of at least 5 years prior to making an application.
  • Evidencing contribution to Australia on the basis of income tax returns, which show taxable income at least equivalent to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) for each qualifying period, unless claiming an exemption. The current TSMIT of $53,900 has been in effect since 1 July 2013, and was previously $51,400 from 1 July 2012 to 30 June 2013.
  • Meeting mandatory health, character and security checks.


There are limited exemptions to the above requirements.

Unlike other skilled visas, there is no age limit or restriction to applying.

Application fees for this visa are in line with current fees for the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa. However, only 20% of the application fee needs to be paid at lodgement of an application and the balance of 80% is payable prior to visa grant.

As of 1 July 2017, the fees to apply for the Independent Skilled (NZ stream) visa:


ApplicantAt LodgementPrior to GrantTotal
Main Applicant$734.00$2,936.00$3,670.00
Dependents over 18 years$367.00$1,468.00$1,835.00
Dependents under 18 years$184.00$736.00$920.00


This pathway provides eligible NZ citizens with a pathway to access the benefits of being an Australian permanent resident, without the extra requirements and red tape associated with other permanent visas.  It is also a pathway to obtaining Australian citizenship, subsequent to obtaining permanent residence.