Options for Australian citizenship
22 April 2023
Non-protected Special Category Visa-holders who have resided in Australia for at least the past four years can apply directly for citizenship from the 1 July 2023 without needing to apply for a permanent visa.
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 residency requirement and character test]. There are two categories of SCV:
- Protected Special Category Visa-holders were always eligible for Australian citizenship.
- Non-protected Special Category Visa-holders can apply directly for citizenship from 1 July 2023.
If you are granted a Resident Return Visa or NZ Stream 189 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.
Protected Special Category visa-holders, Australian permanent residents and citizens can sponsor their partner ($8,850) and dependent children (from $3,055) 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. 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 $540, or $75 for Pensioner Concession Card and Health Care Card holders. Children aged 16 or 17 at the time or application and Adults aged over 59, $330 or $40. 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
The direct citizenship pathway for New Zealanders makes the Resident Return Visa unnecessary for most non-protected SCVs. It would only be beneficial to anyone requiring immediate access to:
- the NDIS.
- Centrelink payments, who has spent at least four years residing in Australia prior to 26 February 2001. Note, Special Category Visa-holders are eligible for some Centrelink payments.
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 may be eligible for the direct citizenship pathway, or they can be sponsored for a partner or child permanent visa.
Most RRV applications take 1 to 4 days to be processed and cost $465 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)
Closure of New Zealand Stream 189 visa
The New Zealand stream 189 visa closed permanently on 1 July 2023. Applications already submitted will be finalised.
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)
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.