New Zealand Citizens

New Zealand Citizens

If you are a New Zealand citizen and entered Australia on or after the 26 February 2001 on a New Zealand passport you will generally have been issued a Sub-class 444 or “Special Category Visa (SCV)”. If you entered Australia on a New Zealand passport, you may not be aware that you hold a SCV because these visas are granted automatically on entry into Australia. There will be no stamp in your passport indicating that you were issued with the visa.

If you have been granted a SCV you can work and live in Australia indefinitely however it is not a permanent visa. If you are a New Zealand citizen and if eligible under available categories, you can apply to the Australian government Department of Home Affairs (DHA) for a permanent visa and if successful, you will become a permanent resident of Australia. Prior to the granting of permanent residence, you can only receive the full range of Social Security payments as a New Zealand citizen if you are ‘an eligible NZ citizen’. An eligible NZ citizen is a NZ Citizen who was in Australia on or was usually resident in Australia as a SCV holder for at least 12 months in the 24 months before February 26, 2001.

This meant that the 2001 law change does not apply to this cohort. These New Zealanders were given ‘protected’ status. Thus then term Protected SCVs.

Eligible NZ citizens or  Protected SCVs have the same rights as Australian permanent residents.

ALERT: Financial assistance to New Zealanders on SCV (444 visas) during the Covid-19 Pandemic

  • The DHA has advised that New Zealanders on SCV (SC 444 visas) and who arrived in Australia before 26 February 2001 are eligible to access Australian welfare payments and the JobKeeper payment.
  • New Zealanders on SCV (SC 444 visas) and who arrived after 2001 have access to the JobKeeper payment. Those who have lived in Australia for 10 years or more also have access to JobSeeker payments for six months.
  • The Government is advising those New Zealanders who are unable to support themselves through these provisions, work or family support should consider returning to New Zealand.

The following options for NZ citizens arriving after the 26 February 2001 (or ineligible NZ citizens) are available:

1. SCV holders’ family members

Eligibility for a SCV holder’s family member (including partner, child etc) to apply for a temporary NZ Family Relationship (Subclass 461) visa;

This visa remains temporary until or unless the temporary visa holder becomes entitled to apply for permanent residence.

The 5 following options are permanent visas and can facilitate Australian citizenship in due course:

2. Independent Skilled SC189 visa – skilled criteria – invited via SkillSelect

Eligibility to apply for a independent skilled migration through the usual SkillSelect process via the Skilled Independent SC 189 and Skilled Nominated SC 190 and Skilled  Regional (State or Territory Sponsored) SC489 visa sub-classes, by satisfying the application criteria and achieving the required points and being invited to apply for any one of these visa categories.

3. Employer Nominated Scheme (ENS) visa 

Eligibility to apply for an ENS/RSMS visa. Whilst holders of sub-class 444 (and 461) visas resident in Australia are excluded from the ENS – Temporary Residence Transition Stream, as it is restricted to 457 visa holders, they have been allowed to apply for the ENS Direct Entry Stream if they been working with their nominating employer in their nominated occupation for at least two of the last three years immediately before making their application.

In these circumstances, you will be exempt from having to provide the usual skill assessment (including the 3 year experience) requirements and also the age requirement.

Please note: The age exemption is particularly advantageous, as this is one of the few skilled visas allowing applications beyond 45 years.
4. Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP)

Eligibility to apply for a permanent visa under the BIIP (Sub-class 888) – Business Innovation Stream – without first having to hold a provisional BIIP Sub-class 188 visa.

5. Resident Return Visas (RRV)

Eligibility  for New Zealand  citizens to apply for recognition as an RRV holder if you had been in Australia for any amount of time (as little as a day) before the 1 September 1994 and can personally satisfy the 2 main qualifying criteria:

  • That you have substantial ties (business, cultural, employment or personal) which benefit Australia; and
  • That you have compelling reasons for any absence from Australia more than 5 years since the date you were last granted permanent residence (i.e. for a New Zealand citizen, your last arrival in Australia before 1 September 1994)
6. Skilled Independent sc 189 visa (NZ stream)

Until recently to apply for permanent resident, NZ citizens needed to be able to satisfy those limited options noted above, be an ENZC- see below, or in very limited circumstances if NZ citizens had lived in or even visited Australia before 1 September 1994 – a Resident Return visa (RRV) holder.

After 1 July 2017 a discrete age, English language and skill exempt stream of the Skilled Independent SC189 visa was created and available to a cohort of New Zealand citizens (and their immediate family members) who were not living in Australia as at the 26 February 2001 BUT were resident in Australia on or before the 19 February 2016 and have lived in Australia for 5 continuous years immediately before applying, and have had a taxable income of at least $53900 (slightly less for 2012-3) for 3 completed income years during the period of 5 years immediately before the application (as long as one of those years is immediately before that application date) whilst meeting the required health and character criteria

Potential applicants must be aware however that this is a limited stream and has a 19 February 2016 residence cut-off date. Applicants can apply in the future as long as they meet the current residential criteria and as long as this pathway stays open. As always if you qualify now, apply now!

.University fees- NZ citizens and Australian permanent residents

New Zealand Citizens and Australian permanent residents (other than holders of permanent humanitarian visas) are eligible for Commonwealth supported places and are not subject to overseas student fees, but they are required to pay their student contribution amount up front, in full – without discount. New Zealand Citizens and holders of Australian permanent visas (other than a permanent humanitarian visa) may be eligible for assistance if certain conditions are met.

Some other disadvantages NZ citizens (Kiwis) may experience from moving to/living in Australia:

  • Kiwis are entitled to family payments, including family tax benefit, baby bonus, childcare benefit and parental leave pay, and medical care under MediCare BUT are excluded from Newstart (unemployment) benefits, parenting payments and youth allowance, including the Paid Parental Scheme (PPS);
  • Kiwis living in Australia continuously for 10 years since February 2001 might be eligible for once-only Newstart and youth allowances for up to six months.
  • Kiwis are excluded from the new Disability Insurance Scheme, including children of NZ parentage born in Australia.
  • They cannot receive disability support pension for non-work-related disabilities developed while living in Australia.
  • Kiwis are excluded from new payments for Australian residents injured by terrorist attacks abroad.
  • Kiwis are excluded from disability support services in Queensland, which is now amending anti-discrimination laws to allow exclusion of New Zealanders.
  • Kiwis do not have access to public housing in Queensland, Western Australia and New South Wales, which also now refuses Kiwis emergency accommodation.
  • Kiwis have been excluded from student concessionary travel in Victoria, including primary and secondary school pupils and extending to all New Zealanders regardless of date of arrival. This is now subject to an anti-discrimination case.

For further information on NZ Citizens’ rights in Australia including:

  • Australian immigration status
  • Health entitlements
  • Social Security – New Zealand Government offices in Australia have no funds to assist New Zealanders in financial difficulty. New Zealand agencies such as Work and Income NZ are unable to pay emergency benefits to assist people outside New Zealand.
  • Paying tax in Australia
  • Recognition of qualifications
  • Purchasing property
  • Opening bank accounts in Australia

Please refer to the following link.  Detailed information as to access to social security benefits in Australia can also be found in the following fact-sheet (up-dated in 2020)

***For advice on how to change your visa status from temporary to permanent visa holders please contact us

Australian citizenship for NZ citizens

Read more about Australian Citizenship

NZ citizens regrettably do not acquire Australian citizenship based upon time spent living in Australia, regardless of payment of tax or Medicare. The SC 444 Special category (SCV) visa is a temporary visa which allows the holder(s) to live and work in Australia. The SCV holding NZ citizen will remain a temporary visa holder – with the restrictions that come with it- unless that status is actively changed.

To be considered for Australian citizenship, an applicant must first be a permanent resident (or an ENZC- see below)

Before 26 February 2001

This is the date that most NZ citizens are acutely aware of. This was the date that the term and cohort ‘Eligible NZ citizen (ENZC) was closed. Those NZ citizens who were resident in Australia as at that date (or in a narrow range of exceptional circumstances were deemed to be so), were labelled ‘Eligible NZ residents’ and regarded the same as Australian permanent residents and also Australian citizens. An ENZC can sponsor family members and is eligible to apply for Australian citizenship.

After 26 February 2001

NZ citizens who arrived in Australia after the 26 February 2001 dead-line, are now simply temporary visa holders (SCV) with full work rights. There is no need to apply for the visa, because it is granted automatically upon entering Australia, based on the NZ passport held- unless the person is of ‘special significance’. It remains a temporary visa unless or until it is changed. A persons rights under this visa are subject to the whim of the government of the day!

Children of SCV holders are treated as local students but particularly for tertiary education if they remain on their SCVs they have restricted entitlements and are not entitled to HELP (previous HECS – see above).

Since a SCV is not a permanent visa, the visa holder will not be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship. To become entitled to Australian citizenship, the SCV holder must first secure a permanent visa, based upon one of the 1-6 options listed at the beginning of this web-page

Once permanent resident status has been achieved – through whichever pathway is chosen (if avaiable) then subject to the current Citizenship regulations, NZ citizens will be free to apply for Australian citizenship.