Budget 2015-16 Measures confirm new Permanent Residence pathway for New Zealand Special Category Visa holders living in Australia

Yesterday’s Budget 2015-16 reconfirmed that starting from 1 July 2017, a new permanent residence visa pathway will be available to New Zealanders holding a subclass 444 Special Category visa holders (“SCV”) who have been living in Australia for at least five years and have shown a commitment and contribution to Australia.

The Australian government announced the decision on 19 February 2016 in acknowledgement of Australia’s bilateral relationship with New Zealand.

These new arrangements will provide SCV holders from New Zealand a streamlined pathway to apply for Australian permanent residence status if they meet certain visa requirements. Applicants must demonstrate they:

  • were an ‘ordinary resident’ in Australia on 19 February 2016;
  • have been resident in Australia for the five years immediately prior to the visa application;
  • have taxable income at or above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT), currently at $53,900, for the period of residence (“the income test”); and
  • meet mandatory health, character and security checks.

We expect there should be no requirement that the applicant must be physically present in Australia on 19 February 2016 to qualify as an ‘ordinary resident’. Applicants are likely to only have to demonstrate that they regarded Australia as their permanent abode on that date.

It is also expected there will be certain exemptions to the income test, for instance, vulnerable New Zealand citizens as foreshadowed in the initial announcement. The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and the Minister for Social Services will have the discretion to determine the circumstances under which an individual may be considered ‘vulnerable’.

Those exempted from the income test will still have to meet the mandatory visa requirements.

Furthermore, consistent with all other Australia permanent residence visas, we expect the mandatory health, character and security checks will have to be satisfied by all members of an applicant’s family unit, regardless of whether or not they were included in the visa application as a migrating family member. This means if any one family member fails any of the mandatory health, character and security checks, all will fail.

We will publish further information when detailed legislative requirements are introduced.

The initial Media Release can be found at:


No comments so far!


Leave a Comment