Changes ahead for New Zealand 189 visa

December 2020 update:  Please note that the latest instrument did not provide the announced COVID concession on the income threshold of 3 years in 5 years immediately before applying for this visa subclass which is disappointing, We hope the changes are introduced in 2021 (there is no confirmed date).

Related: Major Partner Visa Changes, Family-Employer-Business Visas Prioritised Within 160,000 Places

From the July 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update prepared by the Treasure Josh Frydenberg and Minister of Finance Mathias Cormann, the government is expected to introduce new changes to the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) – New Zealand Stream visa.

To promote take-up of the SC 189 New Zealand Stream visa, the government may extend the eligibility to SC 444 Special Category visa holders who meet the income threshold for at least three of the last five income years (previously 4 out of 5). More information regarding this announcement will be provided by the government in the future.

Under the new changes, to be eligible for the SC 189 New Zealand Stream visa, the applicant must (has not happened yet):

  • Be holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa
  • Have resided in Australia for at least the last 5 years
  • Have started living in Australia on or before 19 February 2016
  • Have the taxable income (see below table) at or above the income threshold for at least 3 of the last 5 income years prior to lodging an application

Income threshold for income years:

Income Year Minimum Amount of Income
2015 – 2016 $53,900
2016 – 2017 $53,900
2017 – 2018 $53,900
2018 – 2019 $53,900

Waiver of the income requirement applies for periods of:

  • Maternity leave
  • Paternity leave
  • Carers leave

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