The Australian Government has announced that the New Zealand Stream (Subclass 189) visa will be permanently closed to new applications from 1 July 2023. This means that New Zealand citizens will no longer be able to apply for this visa, which was a permanent residence visa for skilled workers who are not sponsored by an Australian employer, family member or nominated by a state or territory government.
The closure of the New Zealand Stream (Subclass 189) visa is part of the Australian Government’s plan to streamline the visa system and align it with changes in citizenship eligibility for New Zealand citizens residing in Australia.
Implications for New Zealand Citizens
The closure of the New Zealand Stream (Subclass 189) visa will have several implications for New Zealand citizens who are seeking to migrate to Australia.
- First, it will mean that they will no longer be able to apply for this visa, which was one of the most popular pathways for New Zealand citizens to obtain permanent residence in Australia;
- Second, it will mean that New Zealand citizens who are already in Australia on a temporary visa will need to find another way to obtain permanent residence. This could involve applying for a different visa, such as the General Skilled Migration (GSM) visa or becoming eligible for Australian citizenship;
- Third, the closure of the New Zealand Stream (Subclass 189) visa will make it more difficult for New Zealand citizens to bring their family members to Australia. This is because the visa requirements for the GSM visa are more stringent than those for the New Zealand Stream (Subclass 189) visa.
New Pathway for NZ Citizens in Australia
The Australian Government has also announced a new pathway for New Zealand citizens in Australia to obtain Australian citizenship. From 1 July 2023, New Zealand citizens who have been living in Australia for four years or more will be eligible to apply directly for Australian citizenship. They will no longer need to first apply for and be granted a permanent visa.
To be eligible for the new pathway, New Zealand citizens must meet the following requirements:
- They must have been living in Australia for at least four years on 1 July 2023.
- They must have a valid Special Category (subclass 444) visa.
- They must meet the character requirements for Australian citizenship.
This means all New Zealand citizens who hold a Special Category (subclass 444) visa (SCV) are eligible to apply directly for citizenship (by conferral). These changes only apply to citizenship applications submitted on or after 1 July 2023.
Non-NZ citizens, partners of SCV 444 holders who attain Australian citizenship will be able to continue on SC 461 visas until that current visa expires. If they wish to remain in Australia after that expiry, an Australian partner visa or other relevant visa will be required.
The backdating of permanent residence for SCV holders will impact children born to SCV holders. From 1 July 2023, any child born in Australia on or after 1 July 2022 to an SCV holder may automatically acquire Australian citizenship at birth. From 1 July 2023, children who meet these circumstances can apply for evidence of citizenship.
The new pathway is a significant development for New Zealand citizens in Australia, as it will make it easier for them to obtain Australian citizenship and will give them the same rights and privileges as Australian citizens, such as the right to vote and the right to live and work in Australia permanently.
The closure of the New Zealand Stream (Subclass 189) visa and the introduction of the new pathway for NZ citizens in Australia to obtain Australian citizenship are significant developments that will have a major impact on New Zealand citizens who are seeking to migrate to Australia or who are already in Australia.
If you are a New Zealand citizen who is seeking to migrate to Australia, or if you are a New Zealand citizen who is already in Australia and you are interested in obtaining Australian citizenship, you should contact an immigration lawyer to discuss your options.
Augustine & Co. Immigration Lawyers is a leading immigration law firm in Australia. We have assisted individual and corporate clients from all over the world obtain visas and citizenship successfully and are committed to providing our clients with the highest quality legal services and the best possible outcome.
If you are considering migrating to Australia, please contact us to discuss your options. We would be happy to help you achieve your immigration goals.