New Zealand Special Category Visa Holders

The Federal Government introduced an additional pathway for New Zealand citizens living in Australia for applicants that meet the criteria. This additional pathway is via the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa.

The main requirements of this visa are:

  • must be the holder of a Special Category (subclass 444) visa
  • have been usually resident in Australia for a continious period of five years or more immediately prior to lodging your application and have commenced that period of usual residence on or before 19 February 2016.
  • have a taxable income at or above the income threshold (TSMIT) for each income year in the give years prior to lodging an application (currently at A$53,900)
  • meet health and character requirements

Skilled Visa Applications – Subclass 457, Employer Nomination Scheme (subclass 186), Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) (subclass 187), General Skilled Migration (subclasses 190 & 189) and the Skilled Regional (Provisional) (subclass 489) visa.

Subclass 457 Visa

–  The English Language Salary Exemption Threshold (ELSET) has now been removed for all applications lodged on or after the 1 July 2017. English language tests must be provided for applications lodged on or after this date unless;

  • the visa applicant is an employee of an overseas business who is coming to Australia to work for a branch of that company or their associated entity and they have nominated base rate of pay of at least A$96,400 OR any of the other current English language exemptions apply.

– The training benchmark’s A and B have been removed and is being replaced by payments to a Skilling Australians Fund (SAF).

– All applicants will now be required to provide police clearance certificates with their application

– Further occupations and nationalities require mandatory Skills Assessments

– Generally, applicants applying with an occupation on the Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL) will be issued with a maximum visa validity of four years, with applicants applying with an occupation from the Short-term Skilled Occupation List (STSOL) being granted for two years.

Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (subclass 186) & Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) (subclass 187)

– Applications for ENS and RSMS made via the Temporary Residence Transition stream (TRT) which have been lodged on or after 1 July 2017 will require a result of at least 6 in each component which has raised the level to ‘Competent’ English. The Department will also still accept equivalent authorised English language tests such as PTE, TOEFL, and CAE.

– Exemptions applicable to English language requirements for both the Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS) and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) have been removed. Regardless of the income being received by applicants, the English language requirement must be met.

– Applicants are no longer able to be exempted from providing a Skills Assessment for both the ENS and RSMS Direct Entry streams based on their income. All applicants will now be required to provide a skills assessment.

– Further legislation has been added to give the Department discretion to assess whether the sponsoring businesses have a ‘genuine need’ for the applicant to work in the nominated position. As such, it is important that all ENS and RSMS applications include information on why the business requires the applicant on a full time and permanent basis.

– Although a much more minor change, all nominations applications for ENS and RSMS DE nominations must clearly identify the intended nominee.

General Skilled Migration – Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189), Skilled Nominated visa (subclass 190) and Skilled Regional (Provisional) visa (subclass 489)

– All applicants must be under 45 years of age at the time of receiving an invitation to be eligible to apply for any of these visas however some age exemptions will continue to apply.’ An exception to this change is for the NZ Citizen stream of the subclass 189 visa which has no age limit.

– Revision of skilled occupation lists will continue to be made. The MLTSSL and STSOL will be revised with changes to be announced as they become available

– State Migration Plans will re-open after being closed or restricted due to reaching quota’s or in response to the recent changes.

– New occupation ceiling information will be released by the Department

If you would like further information on these changes, please contact Ethos Migration to arrange a consultation.

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