Loophole may exist for Australian residence

  • 23/02/2016
Loophole may exist for Australian residence

Many Kiwis may be thrilled with a new pathway to Australian citizenship - but there's already a little-known loophole to getting permanent residence, an advocacy group says.

A door has been opened for about 100,000 New Zealanders who have lived across the ditch for at least five years to apply for Australian citizenship.

The new route to citizenship was announced by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull following talks with John Key in Sydney on Friday.

But Trans-Tasman organisation Oz Kiwi says there's a little-known type of permanent residence, called the Resident Return Visa, which is available to most New Zealanders who spent any amount of time in Australia before 1994.

Before September 1, 1994, any Kiwis how went to Australia were classified as "former permanent residents" under migrational laws.

"The RRV allows 'former permanent residents' to re-instate their permanent resident status," the group said on its Facebook page.

The law means it doesn't matter how long a New Zealander spent in Australia before the date, whether it was years or just a stopover, the group said.

"Its application process is quicker and simpler, it has no income requirements or health tests, and it is much cheaper - $360 rather than $3600."

Spokeswoman Joanne Cox told Radio New Zealand she got her Australian permanent residence based on a trip to the Australian open in 1994.

However, there is a catch: Those claiming the Resident Return Visa can't bring their families along and each member would have had to visit before 1994.

Most New Zealanders move to Australia under a special category visa which has excluded them from applying for citizenship since law changes in 2001.

That means they're unable to access a range of social services such as benefits and disability support.