Your options for Australian citizenship

New Zealanders taking out Australian citizenship automatically become dual citizens (Photo: NZ Flag Facts).

Oz Kiwi agrees with former New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Gerry Brownlee who said, “New Zealanders intending to live in Australia ought to become Australian citizens, [if at all possible]. Doing so would not diminish their New Zealand citizenship, but would give them better rights in their adopted country”.

New Zealanders taking out Australian citizenship automatically become dual citizens so there really is nothing to lose. And you can still support the All Blacks!

New Zealanders arriving in Australia after 26 February 2001 are automatically granted a Special Category Visa (SCV) upon clearing Australian Customs [subject to meeting the character test]. The SCV allows the holder to reside and work in Australia indefinitely, but is defined as a temporary visa under the Migration Act (1958).

In order to obtain Australian citizenship you must be either a Protected Special Category Visa-holder, or granted a permanent visa.

Please note

If you are granted a permanent visa you will no longer be:

  • eligible for a student loan (HELP) under the 2016 policy for New Zealanders; or
  • able to renew your partner’s 461 visa.

Sponsoring family

Protected Special Category visa-holders, Australian permanent residents and citizens can sponsor their partner and dependent children for a permanent visa.

Pathways to citizenship

Listed below are some of the options for SCV New Zealanders to become an Australian citizen. Contact the Department of Immigration or a migration agent for further assistance.

Protected Special Category Visa-holder

Oz Kiwi recommends that Protected Special Category Visa-holders (PSCVs) take out Australian citizenship. This is especially important as the Australian government is constantly reducing the rights of non-citizens.

New Zealanders are considered a Protected Special Category Visa-holder if they:

  • were in Australia on 26 February 2001, or
  • had resided in Australia for at least 12 months during the two years prior to 26 February 2001; or
  • have a Certificate of Australian Residence.

Protected Special Category Visa-holders (PSCV) can apply for citizenship if they have resided in Australia for the four years immediately prior to applying. The proposed citizenship changes do not affect PSCVs as they are considered permanent residents whilst in Australia.

Resident Return Visa

New Zealanders are eligible for a Resident Return Visa (RRV) if they cleared Australian Customs on a New Zealand passport prior to 1 September 1994. They are eligible even if they were only on a short holiday or travelling on a parent’s passport. They must be living in Australia to apply for RRV.


If you re-enter Australia with an expired travel facility you will be granted a Special Category Visa. This will delay you applying for citizenship.

Skilled Independent 189 visa (New Zealand stream)

New Zealanders are eligible to apply for the 189 New Zealand stream visa from July 2017. To be eligible the primary applicant must:

  • be a non-protected Special Category Visa-holder; and
  • have commenced residing in Australia on or before 19 February 2016; and
  • have usually resided for the last five years immediately prior to applying; and
  • have either earned the taxable income threshold OR meet the criteria for an income exemption; and
  • meet the standard health, character and security checks.

The primary applicant can include their partner and children on the 189 visa application. Partners and children only need to meet the standard health, character and security checks.

Applicants for the 189 visa can apply for citizenship after one year, even if the proposed citizenship changes are passed.

Skilled Migration Visa

If you work in a job that is on the Skilled Occupation List you may be eligible to apply for a skilled migration visa. Look up your options for a skilled migration permanent visa.

Contact the Department of Immigration or a migration agent for further assistance.

Australian citizenship by birth

Not everyone with an Australian parent, or born in Australia, is an Australian citizen by birth, it depends on:

  • where you were born
  • when you were born
  • the residency status of your parents when you were born.

You cannot inherit Australian citizenship through a grandparent.

Find out if you acquired Australian citizenship by birth.


Know your rights before moving to Australia

Request your travel records

Check your visa status (VEVO)

Proposed citizenship changes


The above “Your options for Australian citizenship” 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.

Comments are closed.