What is the change? Beginning 1 July, Australia will introduce a new permanent visa stream for certain New Zealanders residing in Australia. In other changes set for 1 July, the maximum age for Subclass 189 (Skilled – Independent) points-based applicants has been lowered to 45 years of age at the time of invitation, and outgoing passenger cards have been abolished.

What does the change mean? The new permanent stream under the Subclass 189 (Skilled – Independent) visa category will be available to New Zealanders holding a Subclass 444 (Special Category) visa, who were usually resident in Australia on or before 19 February 2016, who have continued to reside in Australia for at least five years and meet minimum income requirements.

  • Implementation timeframe: 1 July 2017.
  • Visas/permits affected: Subclass 444 (Special Category) visa holders; Subclass 189 (Skilled – Independent) visa.
  • Who is affected: New Zealand Citizens holding a Subclass 444 visa who were residing in Australia on or before 19 February 2016 and who will meet the New Zealand stream criteria for the Subclass 189 visa.
  • Business impact: The Government has estimated that up to 70,000 New Zealand nationals may benefit from the new stream.

Background: The new Subclass 189 New Zealand stream will require primary applicants to have been usually resident in Australia beginning on or before 19 February 2016 for a continuous period of at least five years immediately before the application date. Applicants must present tax returns demonstrating their taxable income for four of the previous five years met the applicable Temporary Skilled Migration Threshold (A$53,900 for years 2013/2014 through 2016/2017; A$51,000 for 2012/2013).The stream was first announced in February under a bilateral agreement recognizing the special relationship between the two countries.

In the other announced changes, Subclass 189 (Skilled-Independent) points-tested stream visa applications made on or after 1 July, will be subject to a lower maximum age limit of 45 years at the time of the applicant’s invitation. Exceptions include applications made in response to an invitation issued before 1 July 2017 where the application is made after 1 July or is made by dependent family members applying simultaneously with the primary applicant.

The other notable change is that beginning 1 July, travelers departing Australia will no longer be required to fill out outgoing passenger cards, as this information will be collected through other means.

BAL Analysis: The New Zealand stream will make it easier for tens of thousands of long-time Kiwi residents of Australia to become permanent residents of Australia and have a future pathway towards Australian citizenship.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact

MARN: 0101248


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