Key Change to 189 New Zealand Stream Subclass Visa in 2021

Migration Amendment – F2021L00668 – – Subclass 189 Visas Regulations 2021  amends Reg 189.232(1) to substitute 3 income years for the previous 4 years that an applicant for an NZ stream Subclass 189 visa must have earned an amount no less than the income threshold, in the five years before the application was made.


Currently, if an eligible New Zealander is to apply under the subclass 189 New Zealand stream, they must demonstrate the following:
  • hold a New Zealand Special Category (subclass 444) visa
  • have usually resided in Australia for at least the last 5 years
  • have started living here on or before 19 February 2016
  • met the taxable income at or above the income threshold for at least 4 out of the last 5 years prior to lodging the visa application.


From 1 July 2021, however, changes will come into effect providing greater flexibility in the income requirement for the New Zealand stream of the Skilled Independent (Subclass 189) visa by reducing the number of years in which an applicant must meet the specified income threshold.


A further subclause is added at Reg 189.232(1A) specifying that one of the income years must be the income year that ended most recently before the date of the application.


The income threshold for the last 5 financial years has been $53,900.

This Instrument commences on 1 July 2021.


In addition, to further assist New Zealand citizens on their pathway to permanent residence, the Government is implementing measures to assist temporary visa holders who were on a pathway to permanent residence prior to COVID-19 to maintain eligibility for a permanent Skilled Independent visa (Subclass 189) New Zealand stream.


The measures provide:

  • An income requirement concession if they can demonstrate that their 2019-20 taxable income was adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Allowance for time spent offshore due to COVID-19 travel restrictions to be counted as residence in Australia for applicants who were on a pathway to meeting the ‘usually resident’ requirement for the visa.


Why should New Zealanders apply for Australian permanent residency?


In 2016–17, the Australian Government estimates that it will spend around $158.6 billion on social security and welfare, and around $191.8 billion in 2019–20. This category of expenditure includes a broad range of payments and services including:

  • most income support payments such as pensions and allowances (for example, Newstart)
  • family payments such as Family Tax Benefit
  • paid parental leave pay
  • child care fee assistance payments
  • funding for aged care services
  • funding for disability services and
  • payments and services for veterans and their dependents.


As a permanent resident, after an initial waiting period, you will have much greater access to social welfare assistance then you do on a Special Category Visa (SCV). There are also many grants and subsidies which can only be claimed by permanent residents and citizens.


Becoming a citizen can open up more job opportunities; there are still a number of permanent public sector roles which can only be filled by permanent residents and citizens.


Citizenship also means access to HELP loans and other support, without having to meet the same strict criteria as SCV holders.


Need help with getting Australian Visas?


Email: [email protected]

Tel:  +61 (07) 3876 4000



We will help applicants by exploring visa options and securing application. As part of our services, we will assess the eligibility of the application for a partner visa and help applicants to get out of the abusive relationship and provide applicants with detailed advice on applicantsr chances of success. If applicants would like to discuss applicantsr visa options and evaluate the pathway to permanent residency, please make an enquiry  or  book a consultation to get expert advice with one of our knowledgeable and experienced Migration Agents/Lawyers on 07 3876 4000 or email: [email protected].  


Book a free consultation today and let us help you find a way forward.