New Zealanders arriving in Australia after 26 February 2001 are a granted a Special Category Visa (SCV), this is a temporary visa under the Migration Act. Some New Zealanders may be eligible for Australian for citizenship, if they meet the transitional arrangements.
Prior to 1 September 1994 New Zealanders were automatically granted permanent residency upon entering Australia. A Resident Return Visa (RRV) enables them to reinstate that former permanent residency. Twelve months after being granted RRV they can apply for citizenship, provided they have resided in Australia for at least four years immediately prior to applying.
When applying for RRV New Zealanders:
- must be residing in Australia, preferably for at least six months in order to establish substantial ties
- do not need to undertake a medical examination
- are eligible, even if they are aged over 50
- must have a passport valid for at least six months
- cannot include their partner or children on their RRV application, if eligible they can make their own RRV application.
After being granted RRV, you can sponsor your partner and children for a permanent visa. Children aged 18-25 must be financially dependent on the sponsoring parent and studying full time. Also consider whether RRV or the proposed new visa is best for your family.
For more information read Eligibility for a Resident Return Visa.
Once granted RRV you cannot renew a Family Relationship 461 visa because you are no longer an SCV-holder. When a family member’s current 461 visa expires you have to sponsor them for a Partner visa (from $6,865) or Child visa (from $2,370).
Eligibility for a Resident Return Visa
New Zealanders are eligible to apply for a Resident Return Visa (RRV) provided they entered Australia on a New Zealand passport before 1 September 1994. They are eligible even if they were:
- visiting on holiday or business for a few days
- a child travelling on their parent’s passport
- in transit for just a few hours, provided they cleared Customs.
Confirm your arrival date
When applying for RRV you must know the exact date you first entered Australia. All your previous travel is linked to your current passport. Even if you did not require a passport, there should still be a record of your visit because Incoming Passenger Cards were completed for all arrivals.
If you are unsure of your first date of arrival in Australia you can request your travel records.
Applying for RRV
New Zealanders are unable to apply for RRV online. Instead you can complete the paper RRV Form 1085.
The RRV application form can be confusing. Refer to Completing the RRV application form for some guidance.
You will need to provide a written statement of your substantial ties to Australia now, and compelling reasons for any continuous absence from Australia greater than five years. For a longer absence you will need to provide more than one reason, or an ongoing reason. Include as many details as possible in your written statement.
Refer to Eligibility for a Resident Return Visa for information about substantial ties to Australia and compelling reasons for being absent.
All criminal convictions, including historical or minor sentences, must be declared on your RRV application. Failure to do so will see your application declined. You will also fail the character requirements if you have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, including historical offending or multiple short sentences totalling more than 12 months. A suspended sentence, where no jail time was served, is still considered a prison sentence.
It is advisable to request your NZ criminal record if you answer Yes at Question 16. There is no fee, it remains valid for 12 months, and takes 1-3 months to be processed and sent to you.
The Resident Return Visa application fee is $360. New Zealanders cannot apply online. In the payment section write that: “as an SCV-holder exempt from paying the $80 non-internet application fee“.
Submitting your application
Sydney NSW 2000
RRV processing time
Most RRV applications are processed within 1-2 days, but it can take a few weeks. If the Dept of Immigration require any addition information, or supporting documents, you will be given 28 days to provide them. You should be emailed a confirmation letter and a Visa Grant Notice. Take a copy of your Visa Grant Notice with you when you travel.
Being granted RRV
Being granted a Resident Return Visa makes you are a Permanent Resident, and allows you to reside in Australia indefinitely. Because they have not resided in Australia as a Permanent Resident for at least two of the last five years, New Zealanders are only granted a one year travel capacity.
You should notify DIBP using Form 929 if you move to a new address or change your passport.
Resident Return Visa travel capacity
The Resident Return Visa has a 12 month travel capacity. Please be aware that:
- You can be outside of Australia for up to 90 days of the 12 months, with some work-related exceptions.
- you must renew your RRV if you are travelling overseas after the initial 12 months
- DO NOT re-enter Australia after the Must Not Arrive After date on your Visa Grant Notice. You will become an SCV-holder again and may have to wait another year, after renewing your RRV, before applying for citizenship.
- If you are travelling overseas after the 12 month anniversary date has passed you will need to renew your RRV. If necessary, you can renew online before re-entering Australia.
You can check your visa status using Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO).
To find out more about the status of New Zealanders in Australia read Fact sheet 17 – New Zealanders in Australia.
Refer to Resident Return Visa information on the Department of Immigration website
Have a question?
Phone the Department of Immigration on 13 18 81 or contact them via social media. Please do not provide your personal details on a public forum.
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The above “Applying for a Resident Return visa” information should not be relied on as an alternative to advice from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, or a professional immigration services provider.
If you have any specific questions about an immigration matter, you should consult the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or a professional immigration services provider.