Australian Kangaroo road sign (Photo: Google Images)
Date last modified: 05 March 2023
Temporary closure of New Zealand stream 189 visa applications
The New Zealand stream 189 visa has temporarily closed to new applications 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 between the two countries. The Department of Home Affairs will seek to finalise the majority of on-hand applications, and has established a dedicated taskforce to prioritise the processing of this caseload.
RRV or the NZ 189 visa?
Before applying for a Resident Return Visa (RRV), or the NZ 189 visa, you must to consider your family situation, cost and processing times for each visa and citizenship. Citizenship applications take 20 to 24 months to be processed, including attending your ceremony.
Do you need to sponsor family members? Are your children about to start university?
New Zealand Citizen Family Relationship visa (461)
Family relationship 461 visas are only granted to family members of Special Category Visa-holders. Once you become a permanent resident you cannot renew a 461 visa. You will need to sponsor your partner or dependent children for a permanent visa when their current 461 visa is due to expire.
If your child is due to begin university in the next couple of years bear in mind that becoming a permanent resident means they cannot access a HELP loan until they become a citizen.
You must decide what is best option for your family given the cost, time taken to process the new visa, be granted citizenship including attending a citizenship ceremony.
Resident Return Visa
If you entered Australia as a New Zealand citizen prior to 1 September 1994 you are eligible to apply for a Resident Return Visa (RRV) provided you are now residing in Australia.
It can take up to 3 months to be processed if you haven’t been lawfully present in Australia, on a permanent visa, for two of the last five years. Note: time spent overseas does not count towards the two years. The Special Category Visa is a temporary visa.
You cannot include your family on your RRV application, they can submit their own application if eligible. Otherwise, you’ll need to sponsor your partner or dependent children for a permanent visa.
Fees for RRV and sponsorship:
- RRV application fee $425
- partner sponsorship fee $8,085
- dependent child, included on the partner application, $4,045 if aged 18 to 24, and $2,025 if aged under 18
- If you are only sponsoring a dependent child/children the fee is $2,790 per child.
NZ Stream 189 visa
A permanent visa for New Zealanders, the Skilled Independent 189 (New Zealand) Stream, became available from 1 July 2017.
In July 2022 Australian PM Anthony Albanese has committed to reviewing New Zealanders rights, including the path to citizenship. Changes to the NZ 189 Visa will be announcement by ANZAC Day 2023.
Once you are granted a permanent visa you can apply for citizenship after 12 months, provided you have resided in Australia for four years immediately prior to applying. It can take 20 to 24 months or more for applications to be approved and attend a citizenship ceremony.
The following processing times are an indication only:
- Resident Return Visa – 3 months
- Partner sponsor visa – 21 to 28 months
- Child sponsor visa – 14 to 18 months
- Family Relationship visa – 35 to 39 months
- Citizenship, including attending a ceremony, 20 to 24 months
- New Zealand 189 visa – 14 to 17 months
The Department of Home Affairs reports the latest processing times on its website.
Find out more about Eligibility for a Resident Return Visa and the New Zealand Stream 189 Visa.
Apply for a Resident Return Visa
Apply for citizenship, please note you must be a Protected Special Category Visa-holder or have been granted a permanent visa.
Have a question?
Email the 189 (NZ) stream processing team, phone the Department of Home Affairs on 13 18 81 or contact them via social media. Please do not provide your personal details on a public forum.
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