Your options for Australian citizenship

Australian citizenship PR
New Zealanders taking out Australian citizenship automatically become dual citizens (Photo: NZ Flag Facts).
Date last modified: 10 December 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). Note: this visa is temporarily closed.

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 September 1994 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.

Please note

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

Sponsoring family

Protected Special Category visa-holders, Australian permanent residents and citizens can sponsor their partner ($8,085) and dependent children (from $2,790) for a permanent visa.

Pathways to citizenship

Listed below are some of the options for New Zealanders to become an Australian citizen. Contact the Department of Home Affairs 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 immediately prior to 26 February 2001; or
  • are eligible for 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 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.

Family members must make their own RRV application, if eligible. If not, they can be sponsored for a partner or child permanent visa. It may be cheaper to apply for the NZ 189 Visa.

Most RRV applications take 1 to 21 days to be processed and cost $425 to apply online. Submitting a paper application from will incur an $80 non-internet fee.


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)

Temporary closure of New Zealand stream 189 visa applications

The New Zealand stream 189 visa has temporarily closed to new applications from 10 December 2022 until 1 July 2023. There will be an announcement by ANZAC Day 2023.

New Zealanders are eligible to apply for the 189 New Zealand stream visa. 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 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.

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 Home Affairs 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 acquire 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)


Oz Kiwi is run by volunteers and entirely funded by public donations. Please consider donating to help Oz Kiwi advocate on behalf of New Zealanders living in Australia.

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.

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