Australia has accepted, "in principle", a long-standing offer from New Zealand to resettle up to 150 people per year who had been kept in the Australian government's offshore detention centres.
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi however says negotiations are continuing with a few critical issues to sort out.
The offer, first made in 2013, would mean asylum seekers, some who have been held indefinitely in limbo in such centres on Manus Island and Nauru, could soon come to New Zealand.
The deal was confirmed "in principle" in the Australian Senate this week but awaits further negotiation, including Australia seeking a guarantee there would be no "backdoor" for the people transferred to come to Australia.
Faafoi said there were still details to sort out, including New Zealand's wish for those involved to be processed through the official United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Australia was also concerned about refugees gaining "backdoor" access to Australia.
Refugees who arrive in New Zealand under the Refugee Quota Programme are granted Permanent Residence status in New Zealand, meaning they would still need to acquire a visa to travel to Australia.
However, New Zealand citizens can visit, live and work in Australia without applying for a tourist or work visa.
Faafoi said that "backdoor" concern wasn't the main issue.
People New Zealand accepted would be residents and eventually gain citizenship if they wished, Faafoi said.
The question over if they could then enter Australia was for Australia, he said.
"That is their decision at the end of the day.
"We have expressed to them that we are not happy with that, but the offer has been open for some time now, and New Zealand will take 150 refugees if they requested it. There are some bottom lines on that for us."
Australia's Home Affairs secretary Mike Pezzullo said the two countries had been in extensive negotiations at ministerial level and the matter was currently before the New Zealand Cabinet for its final approval.
After that response was received the Australian government would then have to consider the conditions, he said.
Pezzullo said they were seeking an "early resolution" but was reluctant to even say it would be resolved "this year".
"Because I think we've said that before, and that was last year," he said.
He said it had been agreed to in principle but "subject to the satisfaction of both parties and the resolution of a number of issues".
Pezzullo said Australia wanted a guarantee there would be no "backdoor" for the people transferred to come back and settle in Australia.
A spokeswoman for New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the "terms and timing is still to be decided by Cabinet".
"The Australian Government is aware of the requirements of our Cabinet processes.
"Any refugees considered by New Zealand for resettlement would undergo our comprehensive assessment and screening processes, which applies to all refugees accepted under our Refugee Quota Programme."
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has been approached for comment.
Asked about this issue last year Faafoi said New Zealand intended anybody resettled here would have the "full rights of New Zealand citizens", which included the right to travel to and work in Australia.
"Any intention Australia has in that is their decision," Faafoi said.
"We have made it pretty clear on a number of occasions, if they come here, they will eventually become New Zealand citizens, and we would like them to have the full rights of New Zealand citizens."
Refugee activists, meanwhile, have welcomed the news.
"This is a very long and hard-earned human rights win," said Meg de Ronde, executive director of Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand.
"We're relieved that for hundreds of people, the torture is nearly over and soon they will get to begin rebuilding their lives."