New Zealanders’ path to Australian permanent residency eased

Move expected to help clear backlog of about 11,500 applications and could ease process for up to 300,000 Kiwis

The Australian government has lowered the bar for New Zealanders who have applied for permanent residency. Under changes announced by the home affairs department, New Zealanders who applied on or before 10 December for a subclass 189 visa will no longer face hurdles related to income, period of residence and health conditions.

The move, enacted by regulation, will help clear a backlog of about 11,500 applications, slashing wait times from two years down to six months or less.

The chair of Oz Kiwi, Joanne Cox, which represents New Zealanders in Australia, said she was hopeful the new streamlined system would be expanded to ease the process of obtaining permanency for up to 300,000 New Zealanders.

In July the Australian prime minister, Anthony Albanese, promised to announce improved pathways to citizenship and permanent residency by Anzac Day 2023, declaring his government didn’t “want people to be temporary residents forever”.

The Australian government has temporarily paused new applications for 189 visas while it considers “future migration and citizenship pathways for New Zealand citizens in Australia, reflecting the close ties between our two nations”, according to the home affairs department website.

This means that during the period of the pause, from December to July 2023, all existing applications will be finalised. This is a fast track that acknowledges “that this group of New Zealand citizens are long-term residents of Australia, have been working here and contributing to Australia’s economic recovery during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Conditions, such as the income threshold of $53,900 and the bar on people with certain medical conditions gaining permanent residency, will be waived. New Zealanders will be able access the benefits of permanent residency more quickly, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme, social security payments and automatic acquisition of Australian citizenship at birth for their children born in Australia.

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