On 18 May 2017, the Migration Legislation Amendment (2017 Measures No.2) Regulations 2017 was signed and amends the Migration Regulations 1994 with respect to Subclass 189 visas amongst other things. The date these changes come into effect will be from 1 July 2017 and affect applications for that visa type made on or after that date. It’s important to note that the changes don’t affect a 189 visa application made after 1 July 2017, where an invitation is issued to apply for that visa before that date.

Without going into a huge level of detail on the changes, the big thing is that two streams for subclass 189 visas will apply from 1 July 2017. What is known as the points tested stream and a New Zealand stream. In terms of the points tested stream, the most significant change is the reduction of the age threshold down to 45 years as a validity measure. This means that the applicant must not have turned 45 at the time of invitation to apply for the visa.

On the New Zealand Stream for a Subclass 189 visa, the changes introduced are interesting in that they allow combined applications with family unit members. The Visa Application Charges in the New Zealand stream will be payable in two instalments of $720.00 and $2,880.00 for a primary applicant with $360.00 and $1,440.00 for a secondary applicant over 18 (Anyone under 18 will be charged $180.00 and $720.00 respectively). From a validity perspective, it seems that it is only the primary applicant that needs to be a TY 444 holder with any secondary applicants needing to hold a visa of a specific type.

On the substantive criteria in the New Zealand stream, there will be a whole range of public interest criteria to meet which go to an applicant’s character amongst a range of other things. There are also one fails all fails provisions in built into these and care will need to be taken to ensure applicant and non-applicant family unit members can meet those requirements (this means that if a family unit member fails to meet a requirement the entire application may not be successful even if the other family members meet the requirement). Other than that, the main requirements go to:

  • The applicant having been usually resident in Australia for a period of at least five years before the date of any application and that period must have started on or before 19 February 2016;
  • A requirement to provide certain taxation documents and have earned a certain amount in the four most recent years prior to an application with certain exceptions to apply; and,
  • For those in the New Zealand Stream, the health requirement they will be assessed against is the more generous Public Interest Criterion 4007.

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