The Australian Government is making changes to the Skilled Independent subclass 189 visa from the 1st of July 2017:
- Two separate pathways or “streams” will be available: a Points Tested Stream, and a New Zealand Citizen Stream.
- The maximum age permitted to apply for a subclass 189 visa under the Points Tested Stream will be 44 – ie applicants must be aged under 45 when the invitation to apply for the visa is issued by the Department of Immigration.
- The New Zealand Citizen Stream will facilitate New Zealand citizens who are already resident in and contributing to Australia to become permanent residents.
- More specifically, the New Zealand Citizen Stream will be available to New Zealand citizens who:
- Were usually resident in Australia on or before 19 February 2016; and
- Since that time have continued to be usually resident in Australia for at least five years before applying for the visa; and
- Have been contributing to Australia by earning a certain level of taxable income; and
- Meet mandatory health, character and security criteria.
For New Zealand Citizen Stream applicants the total amount of the Visa Application Charge (VAC) payable to the Department of Immigration will be consistent with the VACs for the general skilled migration programme.
However, concessional arrangements have been introduced to the New Zealand Citizen Stream, whereby 20 per cent of the VAC will be payable at the time of lodging the visa application, with the remainder of the VAC to be paid before the visa is granted.
For Points Tested Stream applicants the reduction in the maximum age requirement will only impact those applicants who are invited to apply on or after the 1st of July, 2017, or who been issued with a visa invitation before the 1st of July, 2017 and who have not accepted the invitation at that date.