25 October 2021

Being a Kiwi and staying in Australia just became a little easier

| Snedden Hall & Gallop
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Dominic Cookman

Snedden Hall & Gallop senior associate Dominic Cookman. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Are you a New Zealand citizen who has been living and working in Australia during the past few years and is intending to apply for permanent residency? Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your income?

If you answered yes to these questions, the pandemic may have a silver lining in the form of a permanent residency visa.

Until recently, one of the most important eligibility criteria for permanent residency was to show that your income for the past three financial years was greater than $53,900 each year.

But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Snedden Hall & Gallop migration team member Dominic Cookman says applicants may no longer have to meet this income threshold as they may fall under a new class of applicants exempt from it because their income has been affected by the pandemic.

To show proof of eligibility, Dominic says you can do it one of two ways.

“The first is to have a signed letter written on company letterhead by your current or former employer stating your annual salary before 1 February, 2020,” he says.

“The second way is to have your payslips, salary advices or employment contracts [stating your salary] for a period in the 2019-2020 income year to show you were likely to meet the income threshold.”

What else do you need? Dominic says it depends on whether you’re still employed or not.

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“If you’re still employed, you need one of three documents that show why your income dropped,” he says.

“The first document you could use is a statutory declaration by your employer acknowledging that your 2019-2020 taxable income has reduced due to less availability of shifts/hours, or that your contract prevented you from working.

“The second document is a medically directed order to self-isolate that prevents you from working.

“The last document you might use is proof you had caring responsibilities because of pandemic shutdowns of places such as schools and childcare centres, which prevented you from working.”

If your employment was terminated, applicants will need one of three other documents.

“The first document could be a statutory declaration by your former employer stating the reasons you were dismissed were related to the pandemic’s effects on the business,” says Dominic.

“The second is documentation proving you had access to the JobKeeper wage subsidy for some of the 2019-2020 income year. This must include either an employee nomination form, or other statements or documents provided by the ATO demonstrating you had access to the JobKeeper wage subsidy, or alternative statements provided by the ATO at your request.”

Dominic says the last set of documents you can use if you’re no longer working are Services Australia-Centrelink letters showing you claimed and received JobSeeker payments for some of the 2019-2020 income year.”

For more information, visit the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs.

This is a sponsored article, though all opinions are the author’s own. For more information on paid content, see our sponsored content policy.

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