New Zealand Family Relationship Visa – Key Eligibility Information

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In my last few articles, I have covered the key requirements for the Prospective Marriage visa and the Partner visa for married and de facto applicants. The focus of this article is another visa in the Family category: the New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship Visa, the subclass 461.

The New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa (for the rest of the article, I will refer to this as the “461 visa”) is a temporary visa that is available for applicants who are not New Zealand citizens and who are an eligible family member of a New Zealand citizen. To be an eligible family member, the applicant must be related to the New Zealand citizen. There are a number of family members that could be eligible (for example, a child-parent relationship); however, for the purposes of this article, we are discussing only the spouse or de facto partner of the New Zealand citizen.

The New Zealand citizen must be either inside Australia as the holder of a Special Category visa (subclass 444) or eligible to hold a subclass 444 visa and will be granted the subclass 444 on arrival. Most New Zealand citizens will be eligible for the subclass 444 visa unless they have health or character concerns.

 

The 461 visa is granted for a 5-year period. This 5-year period can be renewed by making subsequent visa applications. Any number of subsequent applications can be made as long as eligibility criteria continue to be met.

If you have dependent children, your children can be included as secondary applicants together with your visa application. Any dependent applicants provide evidence of their relationship to the New Zealand citizen and must also meet all health and character requirements the same as the primary applicant.

You can be either inside or outside Australia when you apply for the 461 visa. However, if you were inside Australia when you applied, you must be inside Australia for the visa to be granted. Similarly, if you were outside Australia when you applied for the visa, you must be outside Australia for the visa to be granted.

461 visa requirements

As the spouse or de facto partner of a New Zealand citizen, you must provide evidence that you have been in a relationship with your partner for at least 6 months—that is, evidence to show that you are living under the same roof in a genuine relationship with your New Zealand citizen partner and that you are committed to a shared life together.

The six-month requirement is one of the real advantages of this visa. Usually, partner-based visas have a “12-month cohabitation” requirement, but this visa has only a six-month relationship requirement, so it can be a very handy visa in some circumstances, either in its own right or as a pathway to meeting the requirements for a permanent visa. This can get quite complex though, so make sure you seek advice before pursuing complex visa pathways.

Evidence that the Department of Immigration are looking for to prove the genuine nature of your relationship generally fall into the following 4 categories:

  • the nature of the commitment between you and your partner
  • the social nature of your relationship
  • the financial aspects of your relationship
  • the nature of your shared household

Health and character requirements

As is the case for other temporary visas, you must meet all health and character requirements before the visa can be granted. In particular, the 461 visa requires that you provide evidence of health insurance to cover you (and your family if included in the visa application) for the full 5 years of your stay in Australia.

Paper application

Although the Department of Immigration has recently introduced online applications for other visas in the Family Category (e.g., Partner visa), the 461 visa application can only be made as a paper application. The application should be made at your nearest Australian embassy or Department of Immigration office in Australia.

What if the relationship breaks down?

An important note to highlight with regard to the 461 visa is that the Department of Immigration recognises that relationships do, from time to time, break down. In this instance, there is provision within the 461 visa where, if you are already the holder of a 461 visa, you may be eligible to be granted another 461 visa in the future even if you are no longer in the relationship with your New Zealand citizen partner. However, to be eligible in these circumstances, you must not have commenced a relationship with another partner.

If either of the following circumstances applies to you, you may be eligible for a further 461 visa, so please contact National Visas for further information. Please note, this is only a general outline of the requirements and other criteria may also apply.

  • If you are currently inside Australia and either still currently hold a 461 visa or your last substantive visa was a 461 and your relationship with your New Zealand citizen partner has broken down; or
  • If you are outside Australia but have previously been to Australia as the holder of a 461 (you must have departed as the holder of the 461 visa) and are no longer in a relationship with a New Zealand citizen and wish to return to Australia.

Would you like to know if you qualify for a 461 Visa?

You can start the process by taking a free online assessment.

I hope that the information here has been useful if you are considering whether a 461 visa is suitable for your situation.

I look forward to an opportunity to assist you with your visa application in the future.

Esther Taft
Migration Advisor
MARN 1276126

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John Bell

Migration Advisor at National Visas
John Bell has been involved in the immigration industry since 2000 and has practiced in Australia as an Australian Registered Migration Agent since 2003. John also worked in the UK as a UK immigration adviser between 2000 and 2002.

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