Special Category Visa
The Special Category Visa (SCV) is a temporary visa that allows New Zealanders to live and work in Australia, as long as they remain a New Zealand citizen. Anyone arriving in Australia on a New Zealand passport, without a visa, will automatically be issued an SCV, subject to meeting the health and character requirements.
The SCV is automatically cancelled upon departing Australia. Therefore, New Zealanders who usually reside in Australia are not a “resident” for insurance or other purposes etc when outside of Australia.
Which type of SCV are you?
The Migration Act (1958) specifies only one visa for New Zealanders, the Temporary Resident visa subclass TY 444. The Special Category Visa (SCV) is defined in the Social Security Act (1991). The type of SCV you hold depends on when you arrived in Australia.
If you are a New Zealand citizen who first arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001, you are a non-protected SCV-holder. This means you are not an Australian resident for social security purposes.
From 1 July 2023 non-protected Special Category Visa-holders are considered Permanent Residents for citizenship purposes only. Those who have resided in Australia for at least the past four years can apply directly for citizenship without needing to apply for a permanent visa.
Protected SCV holder
You are a protected SCV-holder, also known as an Eligible New Zealand Citizen (ENZC), if you arrived in Australia on a New Zealand passport and were:
- in Australia on 26 February 2001; or
- in Australia for at least 12 months in the 2 years immediately before this date, or
- assessed as a protected SCV holder before 26 February 2004.
If you meet these rules, and live in Australia, you are an Australian resident for social security purposes. You are also eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after residing in Australia four years immediately prior to applying.
Children born in Australia
Children born in Australia on or after 1 July 2022 with a non-protected Special Category Visa-holder parent will be deemed Australian citizens from birth. Apply for Proof of Australian citizenship from 1 July 2023.
Children born in Australia before 1 July 2022, who did not acquire Australian citizenship at birth and have not entered Australia on a New Zealand passport, must apply for New Zealand citizenship by descent and a passport, then apply for an SCV online. If they do not hold an SCV they are not eligible to apply for Australian citizenship from 1 July 2023.
If you did not acquire Australian citizenship at birth you may be eligible to apply directly for citizenship from 1 July 2023 without needing to apply for a permanent visa.
New Zealand citizens on Norfolk Island
You are generally a protected SCV-holder if you are a New Zealand citizen who was:
- on Norfolk Island on 26 February 2001, or
- in Australia including Norfolk Island, for 12 months in the 2 years immediately before this date.
If you meet these rules and also live in Australia, you're an Australian resident for social security purposes.
If you formerly held a Norfolk Island immigration temporary, general or unrestricted entry permit you may be able to apply for an Australian permanent visa.
Confirm your status
Check your visa status using VEVO. You can also contact Centelink International Services or request your travel records to confirm whether you are a non-protected or protected Special Category Visa-holder.
New Zealanders granted a permanent visa such as the NZ 189 or Resident Return Visa will revert to a Special Category Visa if they enter Australia with an expired travel facility. Check the Must Not Arrive After Date in VEVO or on your Visa Grant Notice - keep a copy with your passport.
Once you are granted Australian citizenship you should always depart and enter Australia on an Australian passport.
Keep your passport valid
Your Special Category Visa remains valid even if your passport expires. Oz Kiwi recommends you and your whānau always have a valid passport. Do not wait for a family emergency before renewing your New Zealand passport.
As at July 2023, New Zealand passports usually take 10 working days to process. Urgent requests in Australia take 3 days and cost AUD $484 for an Adult, and AUD $928 for an after hours application.
New Zealanders entering Australia
Check your visa status using VEVO
Your options for Australian citizenship
New Zealanders citizens claiming payments in Australia