Applying for the new permanent visa (189)


Oz Kiwi have received responses from DIBP to supporters queries about the 189 (NZ) Stream Visa application process.

Before applying please read the 189 (NZ) Stream Visa information on the Department of Immigration website.


Prime Minister Turnbull has clarified that the new pathway to citizenship will not be affected by the changes to citizenship eligibility announced on 20 April 2017. Those who apply under this pathway should still be eligible for citizenship after one year.

A new permanent visa, the Skilled Independent 189 (New Zealand) Stream became available from 1 July 2017 for some non-protected Special Category Visa-holders (SCV). If you are eligible, start preparing your supporting documents.

You can apply online by creating an ImmiAccount.

The primary applicant must either meet the income threshold in each of the five years, or be eligible for an income exemption.

Not all New Zealanders will be eligible to apply, including students, retirees, carers of children and some people unable to work due to an injury. Being made redundant, becoming unemployed, salary sacrificing and negative gearing are not grounds for an income exemption.

If the primary applicant does not meet the income threshold/income exemption criteria they cannot apply.

The new permanent visa does not change Kiwi’s eligibility for RRV, nor does it affect the Special Category Visa that many Kiwis in Australia reside on. If you are not eligible for the new permanent visa you can continue to reside on the Special Category Visa.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for the new visa, the primary applicant must:

If you ​arrived in Australia on 19 February 2016, you can apply after five years, provided you meet the other eligibility criteria. If you were not in Australia on 19 February 2016, but can demonstrate you were usually resident you will also be eligible to apply.

There are some limited income exemptions (see below).

There is no maximum age restriction when applying for the Skilled Independent 189 (New Zealand) Stream.

The primary applicant can include their partner and dependent children on the application. Partners and children only need to meet the health, character and security checks.

Please note

If you are also eligible to apply for a Resident Return Visa, and have a partner and/or dependent children to sponsor, you must consider whether RRV or the new visa is the best option for your family. If your child becomes a permanent visa-holder they will not be eligible for a HELP loan until they attend their citizenship ceremony.

Only you can decide what is the best option for your family given the cost, time taken to process each visa, be granted citizenship and attend a citizenship ceremony. Oz Kiwi cannot advise on the best pathway for your family.

Family Relationship 461

Once you are granted the new visa you cannot renew a Family Relationship 461 visa as you are no longer an SCV-holder. You will need to include family on your application for the new visa, or sponsor them for a Partner visa or dependent Child visa when their current 461 visa expires.

Income threshold

The income threshold for the Independent Skilled 189 (New Zealand) Stream is set at the same level as the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT). You must at least provide copies of ATO Notices of Assessment for the four most recently completed income years immediately prior to application (with the tax file number removed or obscured).

Ask your accountant or tax agent for copies of your tax assessments, or log into the My Gov website.

Income threshold for the past five years (Source: DIBP)

Income exemptions

You are eligible for an income exemption if you are prevented by an Australian authority from leaving Australia to return to New Zealand. This includes:

  • a court order preventing you from removing a child from Australia; or
  • receiving compensation/rehabilitation for an injury that would be discontinued if you returned to New Zealand.

You are also eligible for an income exemption for periods of maternity, paternity or carers leave during the qualifying period. Assessment is on a case-by-case basis including whether you resumed/intend to resume earning the income threshold within a reasonable timeframe.

If applying for an exemption or waiver to the income requirement you will also need:

  • evidence of exemption to the income requirement such as a court order, parenting plan or compensation claim; or
  • evidence of parental leave/carers leave such as a letter from your employer.

Supporting documents

Gather your supporting documents, they do not need to be certified. In particular you will need:

  • your passport photo page
  • your rates notice, rental agreement, utility bill as proof of residing in Australia
  • police certificates from any country you have resided in, aged over 16, for 12 months or more in the last 10 years
  • either ATO Tax Assessment Notices or evidence of income exemption for the primary applicant

If including your partner and dependent children on the application, you will also need copies of:

  • their passport photo page
  • proof of your relationship (even if you are married) ie marriage certificate, family photos, joint bank accounts, shared property etc
  • evidence of any name change, ie by marriage or deed poll (if applicable)
  • children’s birth certificates
  • police certificates from any country applicants have resided in, aged over 16, for 12 months or more in the last 10 years

New Zealand Police check

Request a New Zealand criminal conviction history for each visa applicant over the age of 16. The Department of Immigration may ask for one even if the applicant has resided in Australia for more than 10 years. Tick the box at step 3 of the form – Full record of convictions – to request your full record. There is no fee, it remains valid for 12 months, and takes 1-3 months to be processed.

Australian National Police Check

Request an Australian National Police Check for each visa applicant, over the age of 16, who has resided in Australia more than 12 months or more within the last 10 years. You do not need to provide finger prints. The fee is $42, and it usually takes 15 working days to be processed. When completing the form, in:

  • Section 1: Type of check required – tick the box Name Check Only
  • Section 8: Purpose of Check – select code 33 For Immigration/Citizenship.

Criminal convictions

All criminal convictions must be declared in the visa application, including historical or minor sentences. There is no “clean slate” when applying for a visa or citizenship.

Failure to declare convictions will see your application declined. You will also fail the character requirements if you have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, including historical offending or multiple short sentences totalling more than 12 months. A suspended sentence, ie no jail time was served, is still a prison sentence.

Health check

All members of the family will need to undergo a health examination. If an applicant fails to meet the health requirement you will be notified if a health waiver is going to be considered. If there are significant costs or services are in short supply the applicant will probably not meet the health requirement.

A medical examination and chest x-ray costs between $300 and $387 depending on your location.


The primary applicant can include their partner and dependent children on the visa application. The Visa Application Charges (VAC) are:

  • $3,670 primary applicant
  • $1,835 partner
  • $1,835 each dependent child aged 18 to 22 (when the application is submitted)
  • $920 each child under 18 (when the application is submitted)

Applicants are required to pay 20 percent of the VAC when they lodge their application. DIBP will request the remainder to be paid before granting the visa.

Processing time

As of November 2017, applicants have reported a notification in their ImmiAccount that the processing time for the NZ 189 Visa is 4 months.

Important information

After applying

Please read the After you apply information on DIBP’s website to find out about travel restrictions and Bridging Visas.

Keep a copy of your Visa Grant Notice with your passport and always confirm that you haven’t been granted a Special Category visa (subclass 444).


RRV or the new visa option?

More information about the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) (New Zealand) stream is available on the Department of Immigration website.

Protected Special Category Visa-holders can apply directly for citizenship subject to meeting the residency and character requirements.

Have a question?

Email the 189 (NZ) stream processing team, phone the Department of Immigration on 13 18 81 or contact them via social media. Please do not provide your personal details on a public forum.

Oz Kiwi is run by volunteers and entirely funded by public donations. Donations can be made via PayPal or credit card.


 The above “Preparing for the new permanent visa” information should not be relied on as an alternative to advice from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, or a professional immigration services provider.

If you have any specific questions about an immigration matter, you should consult the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or a professional immigration services provider.


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