Campaigning for the fair treatment of New Zealanders living in Australia

New Zealand 189 visa

Department of Home Affairs website
Department of Home Affairs website

Closure of New Zealand stream 189 visa

22 April 2023

The New Zealand stream 189 visa closed to new applications on 10 December 2022 and closed permanently from 1 July 2023. Applications already submitted will be finalised in the coming months.

Find out more about the NZ 189 visa closure and clearing the backlog of applications.

Backdated PR

In recognition of the extraordinary wait-times to process the New Zealand Stream 189 visa, New Zealand citizens who were granted the NZ 189 visa after 31 December 2021 and before 1 July 2023 can apply for Australian citizenship from 1 January 2023. They do not have wait 12 months but must meet the usual health and character criteria.

New direct citizenship pathway

Following a review of New Zealanders rights in Australia the Albanese Labor Government announced that non-protected Special Category Visa-holders who have resided in Australia for at least the past four years can apply directly for citizenship from the 1 July 2023 without needing to apply for a permanent visa.


A new permanent visa, the Skilled Independent 189 (New Zealand) Stream became available on 1 July 2017 for some non-protected Special Category Visa-holders (SCV). It was closed to new applications on 10 December 2022 and closed permanently from 1 July 2023.

The primary applicant needed to either meet the income threshold in each of the four most recent financial years, or be eligible for an income exemption. Note: from 1 July 2021 only 3 of the last 5 years income needed to meet the income threshold.

Not all New Zealanders were eligible to apply, including students, retirees, carers of children and some people unable to work due to an injury. Being made redundant, becoming unemployed, salary sacrificing, and negative gearing were not grounds for an income exemption.

Who was eligible?

To be eligible for the NZ 189 visa, the primary applicant needed to:

If you began residing in Australia on 19 February 2016, you could apply after five years, provided you met the other eligibility criteria. If you were not in Australia on 19 February 2016, but could demonstrate you were usually resident you were eligible to apply.

Including family

The primary applicant could include their partner and dependent children on the application. Partners and children only needed to meet the health, character, and security checks.

Family Relationship Visa (461)

Once you are granted a permanent visa you cannot renew an NZ Family Relationship 461 visa because you are no longer a Special Category Visa-holder (SCV). You will need to sponsor them for a Partner visa or dependent Child visa when their current 461 visa expires.

Income exemptions

You were eligible for an income exemption if you are prevented by an Australian authority from leaving Australia to return to New Zealand. This includes:

Criminal convictions

All criminal convictions must be declared in the visa application, including historical or minor sentences. There is no “clean slate” when applying for a visa or citizenship.

Failure to declare convictions will see your application declined. You will also fail the character requirements if you have been sentenced to 12 months or more, including historical offending or multiple short sentences totalling more than 12 months. A suspended sentence, for example where no jail time was served, is still a prison sentence.

Health check

All members of the family required a health examination. An applicant who fails to meet the health requirement will be notified if a health waiver is going to be considered. If there are significant costs or services are in short supply the applicant will probably not meet the health requirement. Where costs are covered by Medicare you can argue that the applicant will continue to receive treatment regardless of their visa outcome.


The primary applicant can include their partner and dependent children on the visa application. The Visa Application Charges (VAC) at 1 July 2022 are:

Applicants are required to pay 20 percent of the VAC when they lodge their application. DHA will issue an invoice for the balance to be paid before granting the visa.

Processing time

The Department of Home Affairs website reports the processing times for the New Zealand 189 visa applications. In July 2023 processing times were:

Important information

After applying

You do not need to tell Home Affairs of any planned overseas travel and you can be outside of Australia when the visa is decided.

Special Category Visa-holders do not need a Bridging Visa. Family members on a temporary visa, ie a 461 visa, will be granted Bridging Visa A which will come into effect if their current visa expires before the NZ 189 Visa is granted. They must then apply for Bridging Visa B before travelling overseas.

Travel facility

You can be outside Australia for up to 90 days each year or your visa will be cancelled. Speak to Home Affairs about work-related exemptions.

Keep a copy of your Visa Grant Notice with your passport.

Confirm with Home Affairs staff at the airport, when you re-enter Australia, that you haven't been granted a Special Category Visa (subclass 444).

Technical help

If you have an issue with your application, refer to Common issues and error messages and ImmiAccount Technical Support on the Home Affairs website.

Have a question?

Click the Ask a Question box at the bottom of the Home Affairs website to use the digital assistant. It may not work with Mozilla Firefox in private browsing mode.

Alternatively, phone the Department of Home Affairs on 13 18 81.


The above “Applying for the New Zealand 189 Visa” information should not be relied on as an alternative to advice from the Department of Home Affairs, or a professional immigration services provider.

If you have any specific questions about an immigration matter, you should consult the Department of Home Affairs or a professional immigration services provider.


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