189 Visa NZ Stream: Skilled Independent Visa (subclass 189)

If you are a New Zealand citizen who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001, you will hold a New Zealand Special Category Visa (444).

Although the 444 allows you to live and work indefinitely in Australia, it does not lead to Australian permanent residency.

In July 2018, the Department of Home Affairs introduced a permanent residency pathway for 444 visa holders living in Australia.

By applying for the 189 New Zealand stream visa, eligible New Zealanders can obtain Australian permanent residency and then apply for citizenship in due course.

189-visa-new-Zealand

Do you qualify for a visa?

Free Assessment

Am I eligible for a 189 New Zealand stream visa?

You may be eligible for this visa is the following applies to you:

  • You arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 but on/before 19 February 2016
  • You have been living Australia for the past five years
  • You can show through your tax returns that you have earned at least $53,900 per year, for each of the past four complete taxable (financial) years – unless an exemption applies
  • You meet health, character and security checks
  • You have paid back any debts owed to Australian government

You can include your partner and children in this permanent residency visa application if your dependents are in Australia when you lodge the 189 visa, they hold a substantive visa or a Bridging Visa A, B or C.

Unlike other skilled visas, the visa application charge is split into two parts with 20% paid at the time of application and the remaining 80% just prior to the grant of your visa.

Does the 189 New Zealand stream visa have an age limit?

Unlike most other Australian permanent residency visas, the New Zealand stream of the 189 visa has no upper age limit.

Who is exempt from the income requirement?

Exemptions are dealt with on a case-by-case basis, but reasons might include:

  • Taking time off on parental leave
  • Receiving injury or rehabilitation compensation
  • The court has made you the primary carer of a child and you cannot take them offshore

What is the benefit of applying for the 189 New Zealand stream visa?

As a New Zealand citizen, you’re entitled to live and work in Australia indefinitely, so why apply for permanent residency? It’s a good question, but residency offers many benefits over the 444 visa, including:

  • Pathway to Australian citizenship
  • Act as a guarantor for relatives who are eligible for PR
  • Work and study benefits. Some employment opportunities are only open to residents and citizens and residents benefit from reduced education fees
  • No English testing, skill assessment requirements or employer sponsorship needed
  • The majority of the Government application fee is only payable at the end of the process, prior to visa grant
  • Waivable health criterion 4007 applies, meaning some health conditions for applicants and family members can be waived, which would not necessarily be the case with other permanent residency subclasses

The Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) New Zealand stream offers New Zealand citizens, who meet the criteria, fast and affordable way of gaining PR status in Australia.

New Zealand 189 visa changes

In July 2020, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann flagged possible changes for this visa in the Economic and Fiscal Update Report. To increase take-up of this particular subclass, it is expected that income requirements will be relaxed.

The report states that eligibility for this pathway will be expanded to include special category (subclass 444) visa holders who have met the income requirement for three of the last five years; currently applicants must meet requirements for four out of five years. The Government will also provide more public information on this pathway and roll out an advertising campaign.

More information is expected to be released in the near future.

Benefits of Australian PR and citizenship:

  1. Access to more grants, higher education support and social welfare support
  2. Greater security
  3. Ability to vote
  4. More employment opportunities
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