Skilled Independent (189 visa)

New Zealand stream only – is temporary closed to new applicants between 10 December 2022 – 01/07/2023.

The New Zealand stream of the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa (the New Zealand stream) has temporarily closed to new applications. This means a new application cannot be made from 10 December 2022 until 1 July 2023.

This is intended to be a temporary pause on new applications, while the Australian  Government considers future migration and citizenship pathways for New Zealand citizens who are living and working in Australia, reflecting the close ties between our two nations.

In the interim, the Department of Home Affairs intends to finalise the majority of on-hand applications in the New Zealand stream, and has established a dedicated taskforce to prioritise the processing of this caseload.

Most New Zealand stream applicants have been waiting several years for their visa application to be finalised due to the limited number of places allocated to this group in recent years.

The following streamlining measures introduced acknowledge that this this group of New Zealand citizens are long-term residents of Australia, have been working here and contributing to Australia’s economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include removing the requirement for New Zealand stream on-hand applicants to satisfy criteria relating to:

  • a period of residence in Australia.
  • the income threshold; and
  • health, given the access New Zealand citizens already in Australia have to Medicare.

Grant of New Zealand stream visas in the 2022-23 Program Year will allow visa holders to access the benefits of permanent residence more quickly, notably the immediate ability to access the National Disability Insurance Scheme and automatic acquisition of Australian citizenship at birth for their children born in Australia.

Questions and Answers

Why can’t I apply for a New Zealand stream visa on or after 10 December 2022?

The New Zealand stream of the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa will temporarily close to new applications. This pause on new applications means an application for a New Zealand stream visa cannot be lodged from 10 December 2022 until 1 July 2023 – whilst the Government considers future options for New Zealand citizens in Australia.

This is intended to avoid disappointment for prospective applicants while the Government considers future options for New Zealand citizens in Australia. These options will be designed to more appropriately reflect the close ties our two nations have, and the very positive contribution New Zealanders make to Australia.

What happens to my New Zealand stream visa application that I made before 10 December 2022?

As announced in the October 2022 Budget, the Government is proceeding with priority processing of these applications in order to finalise the majority by mid-2023.

Can I add my partner and/or my child to my New Zealand stream application after 10 December 2022?

Yes, partners and children may be added to New Zealand stream applications that were lodged before 10 December 2022.

I started an application for a New Zealand stream visa in ImmiAccount before 10 December 2022, can I submit it on or after 10 December 2022?

No. If you started an application for a New Zealand stream visa in ImmiAccount before 10 December 2022 you will not be able to submit your application on or after 10 December 2022. The Government is considering future migration and citizenship pathways for New Zealand citizens in Australia and further information will be provided in due course.

I lodged an application for a New Zealand stream visa before 10 December 2022, do I need to provide any further information?

You will be contacted by the Department of Home Affairs if you need to provide any further information for your New Zealand stream visa application.

What are the period of residence, income threshold and health requirements that have been streamlined and are no longer required to be satisfied by on-hand New Zealand stream visa applicants?

The New Zealand stream criteria that no longer need to be satisfied by a primary applicant are those that previously required the applicant to:

  • be resident in Australia for a continuous period of at least 5 years immediately prior to the date of application, and that residence began prior to 19 February 2016; and
  • meet the taxable income threshold in relation to three income years within five years immediately before the date of application (including the income year that ended most recently before the date of application), or be exempt, for example due to care of a child who is to remain in Australia; and
  • satisfy Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4007 relating to health

Family members of the primary applicant included in the visa application will also no longer need to satisfy Public Interest Criterion (PIC) 4007 relating to health.

Why have these requirements been removed?

The purpose of the streamlining arrangements is to support faster visa processing of on-hand New Zealand stream applications for New Zealand citizens (and their family members) who have been living in Australia generally for a significant period and continued to work in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Does removal of the health criterion post a threat to the Australian community and place undue cost on the public health system?

No. All applicants for a New Zealand stream visa currently hold a Special Category Visa (Subclass 444) and are already living in the Australian community. Unlike most other temporary visa holders, New Zealand citizens in Australia who hold a Special Category Visa (Subclass 444) already have access to Medicare – they do not require grant of a permanent visa to access Medicare.

Family member applicants who are not the holder of a Special Category Visa (subclass 444) and hold another temporary visa would have had health assessed in relation to that temporary visa before being permitted to enter Australia.