Earlier this year, the Albanese Government announced that New Zealand citizens could apply directly for Australian citizenship without first obtaining Australian permanent residence.  Now, New Zealanders residing in Australia with serious health concerns can become a citizen without ever needing to complete a medical examination to show they are in good health.

Health Requirement

For all Australian permanent residence applications, applicants and their family members need the meet the health requirement. Applicants must not have a health condition that is:

  • deemed a significant cost (valued at $51,000 over a 10-year period); or
  • would prejudice access to an Australian citizen or permanent resident to health care or community services that are in short supply (e.g. organ transplants and dialysis).

The estimated costs do not just include medical services but disability services as well, such as disability payments and NDIS support.  When considering life-long medical conditions, for example, Crohn’s disease or autism, $51,000 over a 10-year period is a small threshold that many would fail.

Health Waiver

Where the health requirement is not met, the Department allows applicants to submit a health waiver for select visa subclasses. Within the health waiver, applicants are required to demonstrate that they have a strong capacity to mitigate the costs of the significant cost of the health condition, or there are compelling and compassionate circumstances to warrant the grant of the visa.  Applicants are required to provide evidence of their financial standing and if the Department is satisfied they can mitigate the relevant costs, the permanent residence visa can be granted.

The system is created so mainly high-income applicants or those with significant savings or assets can meet the health waiver requirements.  This is on the assumption that they will be less of a burden to the Australian public healthcare system as they are more likely to rely on the private health sector.

New Zealanders Applying for Australian Citizenship

Apart from the eligibility requirements, the Australian citizenship application only requires applicants to be of good character.  As New Zealanders no longer need to obtain permanent residence for a citizenship application, they will never need to demonstrate that they are in good health or can mitigate the costs of their health condition.

The Australian and New Zealand governments have generous reciprocal arrangements for residents living in each other’s countries. New Zealanders can access some eligible Centrelink payments when residing in Australia.  However, there are several payments that most residents would not be eligible for, such as Aged Pension and Carer Allowance.

The new citizenship pathway opens the door for the many New Zealanders living in Australia with health conditions to still obtain citizenship, and ultimately various Centrelink benefits.

Gilton Valeo can answer your questions about Australia’s immigration system

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