New Zealanders taking out Australian citizenship automatically become dual citizens (Photo: NZ Flag Facts).
Date last modified: 04 July 2022
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”.
There are three options specifically for New Zealanders residing in Australia. They are:
- being a Protected Special Category Visa-holder
- the Resident Return Visa
- the Skilled 189 Visa (New Zealand stream).
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!
Your options for Australian citizenship
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 Migration Act (1958).
In order to be granted Australian citizenship you must be either a Protected Special Category Visa-holder, or granted a permanent visa.
If you are granted a permanent visa you will no longer be:
- eligible for a student loan (HELP) under the 2016 policy change for New Zealanders; or
- able to renew your partner’s 461 visa.
Pathways to citizenship
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 immediately 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.
The processing time for citizenship by conferral (lodgement to ceremony) does vary. See the Home Affairs website for details. The application fee for an Adult is $490, or $70 for Pensioner Concession Card and Health Care Card holders. Children aged 16 or 17 at the time or application and Adults aged over 59, $300 or $35. There is no cost for a child 15 years or younger applying on the same form as a parent.
Protected Special Category Visa-holders will need to sponsor their non-New Zealand citizen partner and children for a permanent visa. They can no longer apply for the NZ Family Relationship Visa (461).
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 now to apply for RRV.
RRV applications take between 1 and 59 days to be processed and costs $425 to apply online. New Zealanders can now apply for their initial RRV online. Submitting a paper application from will incur an $80 non-internet fee.
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 in Australia for the 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 NZ 189 visa application. Partners and children only need to meet the standard health, character and security checks.
The Department of Home Affairs aim to process New Zealand 189 visa applications within 18 to 23 months. Visa Application Charges (VAC), primary applicant $4,240, partner and child aged 18 and over $2,120, child aged under 18 $1,060. The VAC is paid in two instalments, with 20 percent payable when lodging the application.
Skilled Migration Visa
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 acquire Australian citizenship through a grandparent.
Find out if you acquired Australian citizenship by birth.
Thank you for your support.
The above “Your options for Australian citizenship” information should not be relied on as an alternative to advice from the Department of Home Affairs, or a professional immigration services provider.
If you have any specific questions about an immigration matter, you should consult the Department of Home Affairs or a professional immigration services provider.