This is a permanent visa for independent applicants, whether onshore or offshore, under SkillSelect from 1 July 2012. As from 1 July 2017, this visa is split into two streams: the Points Tested stream and the New Zealander stream.
POINTS TESTED STREAM
This is the regular stream for prospective applicants wishing to migrate to Australia on the basis of their skills and not relying on any sponsorship. Primary applicants for the 189 visa in the Points Tested stream
- must have lodged an expression of interest (EOI) and have received an invitation to apply, and
- must submit an application online within the prescribed period, and
- may be either in or outside Australia at time of application and at time of decision, and
- if in Australia at time of application, must hold either a substantive visa, or a bridging visa A (010), B (020) or C (030), and
- at time of invitation to apply, must be aged under 45 (lowered from 50 as of 1 July 2017), and
- at time of invitation to apply, have at least ‘competent English’,
- must nominate a prescribed skilled ocupation on the MLTSSL, and which is consistent with that specified in the invitation to apply, and
- must have applied for assessment of their qualifications by a relevant assessing body for that nominated occupation, and
- at time of invitation to apply, the assessing body must have completed assessment of the applicant’s qualifications to be suitable for the nominated occupation, and
- if the applicant’s qualifications were obtained in Australia whilst on a student visa, the applicant must have studied in a registered course, and
- must pass the points test
- and obtained a score which must be no less than that specified in the invitation to apply.
NEW ZEALAND STREAM
New Zealanders are granted Special Category (subclass 444) visas (“SCV”) upon arrival in Australia. ‘Eligible New Zealand citizens’ are those who were in Australia on 26 February 2001 and are in all aspects treated as ‘permanent residents’ of Australia and entitled to all benefits, including social security and citizenship. Those New Zealanders who arrived after 26 February 2001, lthough they are still allowed to stay in Australia and work ithout reztriction, are regarded as ‘non-protected’ SCV holders and only temporary residents, and are not eligible to benefits available to ‘eligible New Zealand citizens’.
On 19 February 2016, following a meeting between the Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand, a media announcement was released of a ‘special pathway’ to permanent residence and citizenship for certain New Zealand citizens under the Skilled – Independent visa category.
The ‘special pathway’ provision is called the New Zealand stream and commenced from 1 July 2017. Applicants under this stream are not subject to the points test or age requirements, but must meet the following criteria, that the New Zealand citizen must:
- have arrived Australia after 26 February 2001 but before 19 February 2016
- those who arrive after 19 February 2016 are not eligible under this option, and
- have lived in Australia for the past 5 years immediately prior to the visa application
- some who had been resident in Australia but were outside Australia on 19 February 2016 may still be eligible, and
- meets health, character and security requirements, and
- have worked in Australia for their period of residence with evidence of tax returns showing an income at or above the prescribed threshold [set at or above the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT)]
- The relevant income threshold for a particular financial year is specified by legislative instrument, and
some prescribed classes of New Zealanders may be exempt from the income requirement. The prescribed classes are specified by legislative instrument and consist of those who could not meet the income threshold because
- they are prevented from returning to New Zealand because they are assigned primary care for a child and are under a restriction order from the Family Court preventing them from removing the child from Australia, or
- they are receiving compensation for an injury, where rehabilitation or compensation would be discontinued should they return to New Zealand, or
- they are on parental or carer’s leave, but have resumed or are likely to resume work within a reasonable period.
New Zealanders applying through this pathway will pay 20% of the usual visa application charge on application, with the balance payable before grant of the visa. Once granted the visa, they will then be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after they have satisfied the usual citizenship requirements.