If you are a New Zealand citizen who arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001, you will hold a New Zealand Special Category Visa SCV (444).

A 444 visa allows you to live and work indefinitely in Australia, but it does not lead to Australian permanent residency (and onto Australian citizenship).

In July 2017, a new permanent residency visa commenced for 444 holders.  This is the Skilled Independent visa (subclass 189) New Zealand stream – the NZ 189 for short.

Unlike other skilled PR visas, there is no age limit or skill assessment; no points requirement and you do not need your job to be on a specific list. Additionally, you only pay 20% of the visa fee upfront (the rest right before the PR visa is granted).

You may be eligible if the following applies:

  • You arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 but on or before 19 February 2016
  • You have lived Australia for the past five years
  • You have earned at least $53,900 per year for each of the past four financial years (as noted on your tax returns) unless an exemption applies. Exemptions are made on a case by case basis but generally relate to situations such as time off work for parental leave or workplace injury
  • You pass character checks and have paid back any Australian government debts
  • You meet the health requirements. There is a health waiver for this visa, so if you or a family member has a major health condition, you may still be able to obtain PR (unlike other skilled visa applicants)

You can include your partner in this permanent residency visa application if they are in Australia when you lodge the 189 visa. If your partner is not a 444 holder, they would need to hold another substantive visa (such as a student visa, working holiday visa or employer sponsored visa) or a Bridging Visa A, B or C. If you have not lived with your partner for 12 months, you may be able to register the relationship to waive this requirement.

You can also include dependent children.

Once you hold an NZ 189 visa, you are an Australian permanent resident, and some of the benefits are:

  • Future dual citizenship – you are on the pathway to Australian citizenship
  • Employment – access to jobs opportunities only open to Australia residents and citizens
  • Study – reduced education fees

*** New Zealand 189 visa – possible change to income requirement ***

In July 2020, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Minister for Finance Mathias Cormann flagged possible changes to the income requirements of this visa. The Economic and Fiscal Update Report states that eligibility for an NZ 189 visa may be expanded to include 444 visa holders who have met the income requirement for three of the last five years (rather than for four out of five years).

More information is expected to be released soon.

Disclaimer: The information displayed on these pages is intended to provide a general overview of some Australian visa types. It is not a substitute for tailored, professional advice relating to your own personal circumstances. There are dozens of Australian visa subclasses; we refer to only a narrow selection here. Migration policies and regulations change frequently. We are not responsible for any errors or omissions relating to the generic information supplied here. You should always seek up-to-date advice from a Registered Migration Agent or refer to the Department of Home Affairs website prior to lodging an application.

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