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NZ citizens in Oz snookered by 1 July 2012 changes

Bad news is on the horizon for New Zealand holders of Special Category  (sc 444) and New Zealand Family Residence (sc 461) visas, with the proposed revamp of the existing 2 year temporary visa pathway to permanent residence through the Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS). Under the current on-shore ENS visa regulations, there are a number of temporary visas with work rights which are qualifying visas for the 2 year pathway including the Temporary (Long Stay) 457 visa,  Special category (sc 444) visas, NZ Family Residence (sc 461) and others ( sc 418, 421 and 428).

After the 1 July 2102, the only temporary work visa which will qualify for the new Temporary Residence Transitional stream for eligible 457 visa holders (as compared to the Direct Entry stream and Agreement stream) will in fact be the sc 457 visa.

This will be especially tough  on New Zealand citizens and their family members in Australia because  to seek permanent entry through ENS they will effectively have to be skilled assessed with experience or they will now have to be sponsored for 457 visas. Neither Sc 444 nor sc 461 are currently sponsored visas.

To date there has been no indication of transitional provisions, so the assumption is, that if permanent residency through ENS is the goal and an applicant has difficulties obtaining a skill assessment, then a sc 457 visa will be necessary and 2 years employment with a proposed ENS employer will be required before PR can be considered under the Temporary residence transitional stream.