Income changes for NZ 189 visa

Income changes 189 visa

04 June 2021

There are some changes to the income requirements for the New Zealand stream 189 visa. From 1 July 2021:

  • the income threshold only has to be met in three of the last five years.
  • There is a new income exemption if your 2019–20 income was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. You must provide evidence to support the claim.

The new criteria will ensure New Zealand citizens who were on a pathway to permanent residence prior to 1 February 2020 remain eligible to apply.

Applicants are still required to have been usually resident in Australia on 19 February 2016.

Income threshold changes

From 1 July 2021, unless claiming an exemption, primary applicants are only required to meet the income threshold of $53,900 taxable income in any three income years of the five years immediately prior to applying, including the latest financial year. This is a reduction from the previous requirement to prove income for four consecutive years.

The minimum income for the 2020/2021 financial year remains at $53,900. This is the same as the minimum income amount for each income year from 2013–14 to 2019–20.

The changes were outlined in the October 2020 Budget Paper 2 (Refer to page 179) and designed to encourage the uptake of NZ 189 visa. Immigration Minister Alex Hawke also referenced the changes in The Australian newspaper [paywalled].

Full details of the income threshold changes are outlined in Schedule 1 Amendments of the Migration Amendment (Subclass 189 Visas) Regulations 2021.

Evidence required for Covid-19 exemption

It is critical to show evidence that you ordinarily would have met the income threshold of at least $53,900 for the 2019-2020 financial year.

You must provide either:

  • a letter from your current or former employer stating your salary before 1 February 2020; or
  • your pay slips, salary advices or employment contracts (stating your salary) for a period in the 2019–20 income year to demonstrate that you were likely to meet the income threshold in the 2019–20 income year.

You will also need to provide any of the following documents:

  1. a statutory declaration from your employer acknowledging your 2019–20 taxable income has reduced, due to:
    – reduced availability of shifts/hours resulting in a drop in income; or
    – you contracting Covid-19, or had caring responsibilities for a person who contracted Covid-19, preventing you from working and resulting in a drop in income; or
    – medically directed orders to self-isolate, preventing you from working and resulting in a drop in income; or
    – caring responsibilities as a result of Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns (eg schools, childcare centres) that prevented you from working and resulted in a drop in income.
  2. if your employment was terminated, then a statutory declaration by your former employer stating that the circumstances of your dismissal were related to the Covid-19 pandemic effects on the business;
  3. documentation proving that you had access to the JobKeeper Wage Subsidy for a period in 2019–20 income year including either:
    – employee nomination form or documents provided by the ATO demonstrating you had access to the JobKeeper Wage Subsidy; or
    – alternative statements provided by the ATO.
  4. Services Australia-Centrelink letters showing you received JobSeeker payments for a period in 2019–20 income year.

Full details of the Covid-19 income exemption and supporting evidence are outlined in Schedule 1 – Exempt applicants and evidence of the Migration Instrument (LIN21/018) 2021.


Applying for the NZ 189 visa

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