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General Skilled Migration pathway for New Zealand citizens from 1 July 2017

Subclass 444 visa: attaining Australian permanent residency rule change

21 February 2016. Dessie Hristova

In our practice we have assisted with permanent residency for a number of New Zealand citizens who have arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 and were cut out of the many privileges New Zealanders have if they arrived prior to that date. Since that date there were two categories of New Zealand citizens: the 'protected' who arrived before 26 February 2001; and the 'non-protected' who arrived after that date. Although the later were able to remain in Australia indefinitely (as long as they continue to meet the character test) on their Special Category Visa subclass 444, they were unable to enjoy the full rights the 'protected' New Zealand citizens had.


Most of our clients in the 'non-protected' group considered applying for an Australian permanent residency when their children were in their high school years. The realisation of the price tag associated with their children's tertiary education being the most common incentive. These clients had gone through two most common pathways: the Independent General Skilled Migration or the Employer Sponsored Migration.


The Department of Immigration announced on 19 February 2016 the introduction of a new pathway to permanent residency for the 'non-protected' group under the Independent General Skilled Migration pathway. The requirements are simple:

  • applicants must be the holders of a subclass 444 visa;
  • meet health and character;
  • establish they have arrived and resided in Australia prior to 19 February 2016; and
  • prior to lodgement of their application they have lived in Australia for a period of at least five years and earned an income equal or above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT).


TSMIT is associated with the Temporary Work subclass 457 visa program designated for sponsoring overseas employees to work in Australia with their sponsoring employer. The TSMIT was implemented on 14 September 2009 and was set at base annual remuneration of $45,220 and was indexed annually to reflect inflation and increases in the costs of living in accordance with increases in the earnings as published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. TSMIT has been at $53,900 since 1 July 2013 and prior to that TSMIT was at $51,400 from 1 July 2012, at $49,300 from 1 July 2011, at $47,480 from 1 July 2010.


The evidence of the required level of taxable income is a Notice of Assessment (NOA) from the Australian Tax Office (ATO) for each of the five years.


There will be exemptions from the income test for "vulnerable individuals", as defined by the Minister for Immigration and the Minister for Social Services.


This is the link to the announcement.


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Abode Migration Lawyers Pty Ltd

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