Australian Permanent Residency for New Zealand citizens

Skilled Visas

Additional Pathway to Australian Permanent Residency for New Zealand Citizens


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 for at least five years and shown a commitment and continuous contribution to Australia.

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 usually resident 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, including:

  • contributing to Australia, demonstrated through income tax returns which show taxable income at least equivalent to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) for the qualifying period; and
  • meeting mandatory health, character and security checks.

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).

Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa structure

The Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa has two streams:

If you were invited to apply for the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa before 1 July 2017, please be aware that this visa has been renamed the Skilled Independent 189 (Points-tested) stream. The application process is still by invitation through SkillSelect.

An overview of the Skilled Independent 189 (New Zealand) stream is below.

What are the requirements for the New Zealand stream?

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 ($53,900) for each income year in the five years prior to lodging an application (unless claiming an exemption).
  • 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.

Employer Sponsored Visas

Employer Sponsored 186 visa for New Zealand citizens

For a 186 ENS visa, at the time of application lodgement, you must provide:

evidence that you have at least three years of relevant work experience a positive, valid skills assessment in your nominated occupation if you are applying for a subclass 186 visa under the Direct Entry stream in any occupation (the skill assessment must be conducted by the relevant assessing authority listed in the list of eligible skilled occupations). However if you are a subclass 186 or 187 visa and are in Australia as the holder of a subclass 444 or 461 visa and have worked with their nominating employer in their nominated occupation for the last two years (not including any period of unpaid leave) on a 444 or 461 visa in the period of three years before the visa application is made you will be exempt from providing a skills assessment.