New Zealand Citizens can travel to Australia and remain here indefinitely with full work rights. However, they are not eligible for the full range of government benefits or for Australian citizenship.
Since the 1920s there have been various arrangements between Australia and New Zealand that have allowed the free movement of citizens between each country. For many years New Zealanders and Australians did not need a visa to enter, live and work in each other’s country. However, since the Migration Reform Act 1992 took effect on 1 September 1994, everyone in Australia who is not a citizen of Australia must have a visa. For New Zealanders, a special visa class – the ‘Special Category Visa’ (subclass 444) (SCV) – was created.
This visa is granted (subject to character and health conditions) automatically to holders of New Zealand passports when they enter Australia. Whilst this visa allows you to remain in Australia indefinitely with full work rights, it is considered a temporary visa only and is subject to some serious limitations.
If you were present in Australia prior to 26 February 2001, or had settled here before that date, you are considered an “Eligible New Zealand Citizen”. In this case, you would have the same rights as an Australian Permanent Resident in terms of social security benefits, Australian citizenship and ability to sponsor relatives.
New Zealanders who arrived after 26 February 2001, but on or before 19 February 2016, have been living in Australia for the last five years, have been earning at least the equivalent of TSMIT and pass mandatory health, character and security checks are eligible for a new streamlined pathway to Australian permanent residency and citizenship.
The pathway will be made available within the Skilled Independent category of the GSM stream in the annual Migration Program from 1 July 2017. More info on the Current Pathways for NZ Citizens is provided further down this page.
Coral Coast Migration Service can assist with Australian visa applications for New Zealand Citizens. We are a professional Registered Migration Agent and are abreast of the historical and latest conditions surrounding NZ Visas.
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An additional pathway to permanent residence for New Zealand Special Category visa holders has been introduced. This is for New Zealand Special Category (subclass 444) visa (SCV) holders who were usually resident in Australia on or before 19 February 2016 and who, at the time of lodging an application, have resided in Australia for at least five years. The criteria include :
New Zealand citizens who are granted this visa will be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after a period of 12 months (in addition to the five years as an eligible New Zealand SCV holder).
This pathway is a new stream in the Skilled Independent (Subclass 189) visa.
The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) is a permanent employer sponsored visa which has concessions for NZ citizens working in Australia. There is a specific pathway for NZ citizens who have worked for their Australian employer in an occupation on the STSOL for 2 of the last 3 years.
If your partner is an Eligible NZ citizen, Australian permanent resident or Australian citizen they may be able to sponsor you for a partner visa.
Family members who are not also New Zealand citizens cannot be granted a SCV. This is because all applicants for a SCV must meet the primary criteria, which requires them to be a New Zealand citizen.
What visa a family member is able to, or should, apply for may depend on whether the New Zealand citizen relative is an ENZ Citizen (who can sponsor family members) or has become an Australian permanent resident or citizen. There are four potential ways for family members of New Zealand citizens to enter, or remain in, Australia:
Whether the family member enters Australia on a temporary or permanent visa will affect their rights in Australia (eg. ability to obtain Australian citizenship, sponsor family members and receive social security payments).
The definition of Eligible New Zealand Citizen has been amended to align with Australian social security law. Consequential changes have also been made to the New Zealand Family Relationship (Subclass 461) visa.
Eligible New Zealand citizens will no longer be able to sponsor non New Zealand citizen family members. They will be required to sponsor family members using the same family stream visas as Australian permanent residents and citizens.
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