Many New Zealand citizens living in Australia don’t think about applying for Australian permanent residence. New Zealanders receive Special Category Subclass 444 visas on arrival to Australia in most cases, and these allow them to live and work in Australia indefinitely.
Family members can obtain NZ Citizen Family Relation Subclass 461 visas, which also give full work rights even if the family member is not an NZ citizen.
However, there are many advantages to obtaining Australian permanent residence, including:
- Full Access to the free Australian health system – Medicare
- Full Access to Australian social security benefits
- Access to FEE-HELP student loans for higher education
- Possibility of becoming an Australian citizen, giving a right to always return to Australia
Many New Zealanders working in Australia are actually eligible for permanent residence through the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa.
Under current ENS regulations, both the Special Category Subclass 444 visa, and the NZ Citizen Family Relation Subclass 461 visa are qualifying visas for streamlined processing. NZ Citizens or family members need to work in Australia for 2 years to qualify for an ENS visa, and would need to be sponsored by an employer to get their permanent residence.
The ENS visa is currently one of the highest priority visas in the Australian migration program, and many people can obtain permanent residence within a month or two of lodging their applications.
However, the ENS program will change from 1 July 2012. Neither the 444 nor the 461 will be qualifying visas for streamlined processing, and this will mean that New Zealanders will find it much more difficult to qualify for migration to Australia.
If they want to apply for ENS after 1 July, New Zealanders will in most cases need to pass a formal skills assessment and show 3 years of work experience in their occupation to qualify. This means higher costs, delays and quite possibly many New Zealanders without formal university or trade qualifications missing out on permanent residence.
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