Migration Amendment (Subclass 189 Visas) Regulations 2021

Overview of the Disallowable Legislative Instrument

The New Zealand pathway to permanent residence (the pathway) provides a concession to New Zealand citizens who have demonstrated commitment to Australia, and who have made and can continue to make a strong economic contribution to Australia’s future. It is delivered as a stream of the subclass 189 (Skilled –Independent) visa.

Prior to this amendment, these applicants were required to have an income at or above a specified threshold (the income threshold) for the four most recently completed income years before the date of their visa application (during the period of five years immediately before that date), unless claiming an exemption. In practice, this required applicants to provide evidence of income at or above the threshold for four consecutive years, meaning New Zealanders who otherwise earned at or above the threshold for a majority of those four years but had their income temporarily drop became ineligible. These New Zealanders had to then start again and earn at or above the income threshold for four consecutive years before they were eligible to apply for the pathway.

From 1 July 2021, the income requirement to assist New Zealand Special Category (subclass 444) visa holders to meet their requirements for the Skilled Independent (New Zealand Stream) (subclass 189) visa will be updated.

While applicants will still be required to demonstrate a taxable income at or above the amount specified in the relevant legislative instrument, from 1 July 2021 they will only have to provide evidence for 3 completed income years out of the 5 years immediately before applying. One of the 3 income years must be the most recently completed income year. Evidence should be provided in the form of a Notice of Assessment from the Australian Taxation Office.

Applications submitted before 1 July 2021 will still need to provide the 4 most recently completed income years.

The change is intended to benefit New Zealanders who live and work in Australia by providing additional flexibility and reducing the documentation required to be provided with an application, while continuing to meet the policy intent of making the pathway available to New Zealand citizens who have made and continue to make a demonstrated economic contribution to Australia.

The existing income threshold amount remains unchanged.

Source: Migration-Amendment-Sc189-Visas-Regs-2021.pdf and Migration-Amendment-Sc189-Regs-2021 explanatory.pdf

Migration (Income Threshold and Exemptions for Subclass 189 Visa (New Zealand Stream))The purpose of the instrument is to add a new class of applicants who are exempt from the minimum amount of taxable income requirements, which is a primary criterion for the grant of the Subclass 189 visa, and to add the evidence required for the new class of exempt applicants.

Under new item 4 of Schedule 1 to the instrument, an applicant is a member of a class of exempt applicants, if the applicant:

  • does not meet the income requirement for the 2019–20 income year because the applicant has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • provides the evidence mentioned in item 4 of Schedule 1 to the Department to support the claim.

A further purpose of the instrument is to specify in section 6 the minimum amount of taxable income for the income year 2020–21 as $53 900.00. This is the same as the minimum amount of income specified in the instrument for each income year from 2013–14 to 2019–20.

The minimum amounts of income for each income year from 2011–12 to 2019–20 continue to be specified in the instrument and have not changed from the amounts specified in the previous instrument, LIN 20/170. As the instrument does not alter the minimum amount of taxable income and adds to the classes of exempt applicants, the instrument is not detrimental to applicants who have made an application, which has not been finally determined before the instrument commences.

The instrument provides an income exemption to New Zealand citizen applicants who might have otherwise met the income threshold requirements for the 2019–20 income year, but are now unable to do so due to loss of, or reduction in, employment and income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This instrument ensures that New Zealand citizen temporary visa holders, who were on a pathway to permanent residence prior to 1 February 2020, continue to maintain eligibility to apply for a Subclass 189 visa.

Source: LIN21018.pdf and LIN21018-Explanatory-Statement.pdf

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