Australian permanent resident
Australian permanent residents are residents of Australia who hold a permanent residency visa but are not citizens of Australia. A holder of a permanent residency visa may remain in Australia indefinitely. A 5-year initial visa, which corresponds to the underlying migration program, is granted alongside the permanent residency. Until the initial visa expires, the visa holder may leave and re-enter Australia freely. A notable feature of the permanent residency visa is that, even after the initial visa expires, the holder is entitled to stay in Australia indefinitely without breaching immigration regulations.
Permanent residency may be revoked at the discretion of the responsible Minister, for example in cases of criminal misconduct.
Permanent residents enjoy many of the rights and privileges of citizens, including access to free or subsidised legal and health services. They do not have the right to vote in federal or state/territory elections, unless they were registered to vote prior to 1984, but may vote in some local government elections. Permanent residents are not entitled to an Australian passport.
Most permanent residents are eligible to become citizens after a waiting period. When the waiting period is complete, the process of sitting the citizenship test and attending the ceremony will add an additional three to twelve months.
There are a number of programs under which a person may enter and obtain permanent residency in Australia, including:
- General Skilled Migration Program - mainly for skilled migrants, and has made available 129,250 visas for year 2012-2013
- Humanitarian Program - mainly for refugees seeking permanent residency, and has made available 13,750 visas for year 2012-2013. Family members can also be sponsored. An unlimited number of visas can be issued for partners (either married or de facto) and dependent children. Visas for other family member types are subject to limited (known as "capping"); for example there are only 1000 visas available under the 'Parent' category, and as a consequence there is currently up to a twenty-year waiting period before undergoing consideration for these visas.
Citizens of New Zealand
Citizens of New Zealand are allowed to enter and work in Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, being granted a Special Category Visa on arrival. If they decided to become Australian citizens, then they need to apply for permanent residency visa first.
Benefits of permanent resident status include:
- Few limitations on employment in Australia. Some job opportunities, largely federal governmental work, require citizenship as opposed to permanent residence.
- The right to apply for Australian citizenship after fulfilling some criteria.
- For permanent residents accepted under the humanitarian program and enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place, the right to defer payment of their student contribution under the HECS-HELP scheme.
- The right to sponsor relatives for permanent residence, subject to fulfilling residence criteria and assurance of support requirements.
- Children born inside Australia will be Australian citizens by birth.
- The right to access medical and social security benefits, though there is a 2-year waiting period for some benefits.
- The right to apply for Australian consular assistance overseas. (Although this right may be subject to restrictions)
- The right to travel to New Zealand without applying for a New Zealand visa. (This right is granted by the New Zealand government.)
- Unrestricted rights to live, work and study in New Zealand. (This right is granted by the New Zealand government.)
- Skilled – Regional (Residence) visa (subclass 887)
- "Fact Sheet 20 - Migration Program Planning Levels". The Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 2012-06-29.
- "Fact Sheet 21 - Managing the Migration Program". The Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
- Public Service Act 1999, section 22, clause 6.
- "Newly Arrived Resident's Waiting Period". The Department of Human Services, Commonwealth of Australia. Retrieved 2013-12-17.
- Consular Service Charter
- Australian citizens and permanent residents - New Zealand Immigration Service