New Zealand citizens becoming Australian Permanent Residents

On 19 February 2016, to acknowledge the special bilateral relationship between Australia and New Zealand, the Australian Government announced an additional pathway to Australian permanent residence, for many New Zealand citizens who have been living in Australia and shown a commitment and continuous contribution to Australia.

Additional pathway to permanent residence for New Zealand citizens

On 1 July 2017, this additional pathway became a new stream within the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa. The pathway is for New Zealand Special Category (subclass 444) visa (SCV) holders who were currently living and working in Australia on or before 19 February 2016 and who, at the time of lodging an application, have resided in Australia for at least five years. These new arrangements will give many New Zealand citizens permanent residence status, if they meet certain criteria.

New Zealand citizens who are granted this visa will be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after a period of 12 months (in addition to the five years as an eligible New Zealand SCV holder).

New Zealand Skilled Independent Visa – Subclass 189

To be eligible for the Skilled Independent 189 (New Zealand) stream, at the time of application you must:

  • Hold a Special Category (subclass 444) visa
  • Have been “usually resident” in Australia for a continuous period of five years immediately prior to application, and have commenced that period of usual residence on or before 19 February 2016
  • Have a taxable income at or above an income threshold for each income year during the five years prior to lodging an application (unless claiming an exemption) $53,900 per year.
  • Meet mandatory health, character and national security checks
  • Lodge a visa application and pay the relevant visa application charges.

You can include the following people in your visa application:

  • Your partner
  • Your child/step-child or your partner’s child/step-child.

These members of the family unit can hold any visa but must meet mandatory health, character  and national security checks.

Income exemptions

Exemptions to the income requirement are limited to three categories:

Compensation claimCurrently receiving compensation for injury and ongoing rehabilitation or compensation would be discontinued if you returned to New Zealand.
Family court/parenting planCurrently involved with an Australian authority preventing you from leaving Australia to return to New Zealand as a result of the Family Court of Australia assigning primary care of a child to you (this causes restrictions on you from removing the child from Australia).
Parental/carers leave waiverInvolves an approved period of parental or carer's leave from your usual employment. Prior to such leave, you must have had an annual income no less than the income threshold, and you must have resumed or intend to resume earning an income no less than such threshold.

Additional documentation will be asked for applicants seeking to rely on an income exemption (ex: parenting order, statutory declaration, medical certificate).

No Age Restrictions

Unlike the points-tested stream which requires applicants to be under 45 years of age at the time of invitation, there is no maximum age restriction when applying under the New Zealand stream which is a significant advantage for older applicants.

Visa application charges

Applicants are required to pay a total fee of $3750. The first instalment will be $750 at the time of lodging their application, equivalent of 20% of the VAC. The charges will continue to increase each 1 July.


We have an experienced team of registered migration agents who can assist you to navigate through the new additional New Zealand stream under the 189 visa or help you understand how the new stream affects you.