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SC189 – New Zealand Stream Visa – 2020/2021 Income Threshold Update

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The Department of Home Affairs has released a legislative instrument specifying the exempt applicants for the 2019-20 income threshold requirement for Subclass 189 visa applicants in the New Zealand stream.

The threshold income for 2020-21 is the same as years 2013-14 onward of $53,900.00 pa. However, there are now a new class of exempt applicants that are to be included as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Exempt applicants

As it stands, applicants may be exempt from meeting the income threshold base on various grounds including court and parenting court orders, receiving injury compensation and rehabilitation and parental leave.

The new category of exempt applicants are those who:

  1. Would likely have met the minimum amount of the income requirement for the 2019-20 income year if they were not impacted by the effect the COVID-19 pandemic has on the Australian economy

And

2. Could not meet the minimum amount of the income requirement for the 2019-20 income year because of the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the Australian economy

Required evidence

  • A signed letter written on a company letterhead by the applicant’s current or former employee stating the applicant’s salary before 1 February 2020

Or

  • The applicant’s payslips, salary advices or employment contracts (stating applicants salary) for a period in the 2019-20 income year to demonstrate the applicant was likely to meet the income threshold in the 2019-20 year

And any of the following documents:

If the applicant is currently employed:

  • A Statutory Declaration by the applicant’s employer acknowledging the applicant’s 2019-20 taxable income was reduced, due to:
  • A reduced availability of shifts/hours resulting in a decreased income
  • The nature of the applicant’s contract that prevented the applicant from working and resulted in a decreased income

Or

  • Medically directed orders to self-isolate, preventing the applicant from working and resulting in a decreased income

Or

  • Caring responsibilities as a result of Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns (e.g., schools) that prevented the applicant from working and resulted in a decreased income

If the applicant’s employment was terminated:

  • A Statutory Declaration by the applicant’s former employer stating that the circumstances of the applicant’s dismissal were related to the Covid-19 pandemic effects on the business

And/Or

  • Documentation proving that the applicant had access to the JobKeeper Wage Subsidy for a period in 2019-20 income year including either:
  • Employee nomination form; other statements or documents provided by the ATO demonstrating that the applicant had access to the JobKeeper Wage Subsidy or
  • Alternative statements provided by the ATO at the applicant’s request
  • Services Australia letters showing the applicant claimed and received the JobSeeker payments for a period in 2019-20 income year

This instrument commences on the 31 May 2021.

Other Changes Not In Effect

It is important to note that the Australian government announced in July 2020 in the Economic and Fiscal Update that the income threshold would be changed and would only require applicants to have met the income threshold for only three of the last five income years. This change has not come into effect and all five years now must be met unless the above outlined exemption applies for the 2019/2020 financial year.

More information

If you are considering applying for the Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa via the New Zealand stream or have any questions regarding these recent exemptions please contact our office for assistance by our Australian immigration lawyers.

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