Visa Status of New Zealanders in Australia

New Zealanders have always been able to freely travel to, and work in, Australia. Since 1994 changes to the Migration Act 1958 and Social Security Act 1991 have seen New Zealanders residency status change according to some key dates.

The changing residency status, and citizenship pathways, of New Zealanders residing in Australia are outlined below.

Visa status of New Zealanders in Australia

Exempt non-citizen

Until 31 August 1994 New Zealand citizens in Australia were exempt non-citizens and considered permanent residents whilst in Australia.

Since 1 September 1994, all non-citizens in Australia are required to hold a visa so the Special Category visa (SCV) was introduced for New Zealand citizens. The SCV is a temporary visa issued automatically upon arrival in Australia, and cancelled when departing Australia.

Can apply for citizenship if they are a Protected SCV, otherwise eligible for a Resident Return Visa as first entered Australia prior to 1 September 1994.

Protected Special Category Visa-holder

New Zealand citizens in Australia are considered a Protected Special Category Visa-holder if they:

  • were in Australia on 26th February 2001 as an SCV holder; or
  • were outside Australia on 26 February 2001, but were in Australia as an SCV holder for a total of 12 months in the two years prior to that date, and subsequently returned to Australia; or
  • have a Certificate of Australian Residence.

Can apply for citizenship subject to meeting the required residency, security and character checks.

Non-Protected Special Category Visa-holder

New Zealand citizens who first arrived in Australia after 26th February 2001, or who do not meet the Protected Special Category Visa criteria, are considered Non-protected Special Category Visa-holders.

Can apply for citizenship if eligible for a Resident Return Visa, the new visa for New Zealanders avaliable from 1 July 2017.

Additional Information

The above Citizenship Pathway information only reflects eligibility by date of arrival in Australia. Refer to Your options for citizenship for more information.

Find out more about the status of New Zealanders in Australia.

If you entered Australia, even for a holiday, prior to 1 September 1994 you may be eligible for PR via a Resident Return Visa.

If you arrived in Australia between 26th February 2001 and 19th February 2016 you may be eligible for the new 189 (New Zealand) visa avaliable from 1 July 2017.

Check your visa status using VEVO.

Download a copy of the Visa Status of New Zealanders in Australia table.


Disclaimer

The above “Visa status of New Zealanders in Australia” 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.


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