Skilled Independent (subclass 189) (New Zealand) stream

The 189 NZ stream has been temporarily closed to new applications and the regulations have been amended to enable the streamlined processing of the on-hand caseload.

The temporary closure means an application cannot be made from 10 December 2022 until 1 July 2023.

This is a temporary pause on new applications while the Government considers future migration and citizenship pathways for New Zealand citizens in Australia, reflecting the close ties our two nations have.

During this period, the Department of Home Affairs will seek 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.

The majority of 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
  • health, given the access New Zealand citizens already in Australia have to Medicare.

The only criteria to be met by primary applicants (and their family members) with on-hand applications are the existing common criteria for the Subclass 189 (Skilled – Independent) visa which relate to public interest criteria such as character, security, and certain other matters

The effect of this amendment is that the criteria for Subclass 189 (Skilled – Independent) visa applications made in the New Zealand stream will revert to the previous (pre-10 December 2022) settings for new applications made on or after 1 July 2023 unless the Government decides to provide new beneficial arrangements for New Zealand citizens beforehand.


Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) (New Zealand) stream is for New Zealand Special Category (subclass 444) visa holders who have shown a commitment and contribution to Australia to apply for permanent residence. New Zealand citizens who are granted this permanent visa will be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after 12 months (in addition to holding a Special Category visa for a period of five consecutive years).

If you are not a New Zealand citizen you may be eligible to apply for the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) (Points-tested) stream .

Length of stay



AUD4,045, for the main applicant. The visa application charge is paid in two instalments (20% at time of lodgement and 80% as a second instalment before we can grant the visa.)


There is no age requirement for this stream

Visa Status

You must hold a Special Category Visa (subclass 444).

Your family members may hold any visa


You must 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 the taxable income (see below table) at or above the income threshold for at least 4 of the last 5 income years (3 of the last 5 income years from 1 July 2021) prior to lodging an application (unless claiming an exemption).



You must meet our health requirement. Health examinations can be arranged before or after lodging your visa application.


You must be of good character.


You must have repaid, or have arranged to repay, any outstanding debts to the Australian government.

What you can do

This is a permanent visa. It lets you:

  • stay in Australia indefinitely
  • work and study in Australia
  • enrol in Medicare, Australia’s scheme for health-related care and expenses
  • sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence
  • travel to and from Australia for five years
  • apply for Australian citizenship, if eligible.


You must be in Australia when you apply for the visa.

How long the visa lasts

This is a permanent visa – it lasts indefinitely.

The visa starts on the date it is granted.


You can include your partner and your or your partner’s child or step-child in your application.

Family members who are granted the visa have the same rights and can do the same things as you.

More information about adding family members

Your obligations

You and your family members must comply with Australian laws and your visa conditions.

You can find your visa conditions in VEVO.


You can travel in and out of Australia as many times as you want for five years from the date the visa is granted.

Recent Changes

Under the new changes, to be eligible for the SC 189 New Zealand Stream visa, the applicant must (implemented from 1 July 2021):

    • 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
2016 – 2017 $53,900
2017 – 2018 $53,900
2018 – 2019 $53,900
2019 – 2020 $53,900