There has been a political push in the media recently towards more rights for New Zealand citizens living in Australia. Currently, if you are a Kiwi and enter Australia you will be automatically granted a subclass 444 visa. This is a temporary visa with no expiry date so you can remain in Australia indefinitely with no restrictions on work or study.
The issues highlighted in the media lately concern the fact that as a Kiwi, you and your family will not have access to services such as FEE-HELP and student loans while you are in Australia on a 444 visa. You also are unable to vote in Australian state, federal and local government elections, however, you will still have to pay the same taxes as citizens. Gaining access to Centrelink benefits is another area of concern recently raised in the media as Kiwi’s are ineligible for a majority of payments.
Previous Australian laws granted Kiwi’s living here permanent residency almost immediately and made it easy for you to gain citizenship. Currently, if you are a New Zealand citizen and want access to government services and a right to vote, you will need to apply for a substantive visa (i.e. partner visa, general skilled migration, employer nominated, etc) or citizenship. These visas are generally quite costly and have long processing times, making it much more difficult for you to remain in Australia with the above rights.
There are currently 300,000 New Zealanders living in Australia and support in favour of this push for more rights has now grown to more than 20,000. If you are a Kiwi living in Australia and would like to know more about your rights on a 444 visa, please contact a member of our migration team.