As a New Zealander, you have a unique opportunity if you’re considering a move to Australia. New Zealand and Australia have a Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement that allows their citizens to visit, study, live and work in either NZ or Australia for as long or little as they want.
Australia announced on 22 April 2023 a new direct pathway to citizenship for eligible New Zealand citizens who have lived in Australia for at least 4 years immediately before the day you apply.
The changes will come into effect from July 1 this year and be retrospective.
Read more on my direct pathway to citizenship for New Zealanders in Australia post.
As an NZ citizen, you will be automatically granted a non-protected Special Category Visa (SCV) when you process through Australian border control, subject to meeting the health and character requirements. There is no mention of this at border control. It all happens electronically. The SCV is automatically cancelled upon departing Australia.
If you are not an NZ citizen, the process is quite different as you will need to apply and be granted a visa before you can travel to Australia. For more information on Australian visas please visit the Australian Government – Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.
In this post you will find information on the following:
Visas are legal documents issued by a country that allows those from another country to reside in the issuing country.
In 1973 the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement was entered into. This allows Australian and New Zealand citizens to enter each other’s country to visit, live and work, without the need to apply for a visa/authority to enter the other country.
Movement between these two countries is generally dependent upon the current state of jobs and the economy in each country. It is common to find an increase in the number of New Zealanders migrating to Australia when the New Zealand economy is more troubled than the Australian economy.
As an NZ citizen, you do not need to apply for an Australian visa before you leave NZ. Upon entering Australia you present your New Zealand passport for immigration clearance. Once done you are considered to have applied for a visa and, subject to health or character considerations, will automatically receive a non-protected Special Category Visa (SCV). The SCV is recorded electronically.
To be granted an SCV when you enter Australia you must:
If you meet the eligibility requirements (below), you will be granted an SCV.
If you leave Australia your SCV will cease. Next time you enter Australia, they will grant you a new SCV if you meet the eligibility requirements.
The SCV is a temporary visa (non-protected). SCV holders do not have the same rights and benefits as Australian citizens or permanent residents.
Of course, there are some restrictions on the SCV for New Zealanders moving to Australia, but only two.
If you arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001 as a New Zealand citizen, you would be considered a non-protected SCV-holder. This means that you are not considered an Australian resident for social security purposes.
Protected SCVs can already apply for citizenship, subject to meeting the usual eligibility criteria.
Non-protected SCV holders do not have the same rights and benefits as Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents. Australian authorities can also cancel an SCV if a person fails certain character and health requirements, such as committing a crime or having untreated TB.
Unfortunately, an SCV does have a few exclusions that will affect you and your family’s entitlements while living in Australia and a couple of these are quite big e.g. not all benefits, no student loans.
There are also wait times until you can receive government help, see below newly arrived resident’s waiting period.
You can find out more on my SCV exclusions post.
You can visit, study, live and work in Australia for as long as you want. A non-protected SCV should entitle you to the below. Please note, some government help might still have a waiting period (info below):
The Parliament of Australia website has a quick guide to entitlements.
See Eligible New Zealand Citizen for further information.
Eligible New Zealand citizens (or protected SCV holders) may be entitled to more benefits. These include:
Since the new direct pathway to Australian citizenship has been set up, the benefits and payments New Zealand citizens can get from the Australian government have not changed!
The newly arrived resident’s waiting period (NARWP) is time spent in Australia as an Australian resident. This means, if you travel overseas, the time you’re away from Australia won’t count towards the waiting period.
New residents may have to wait up to 4 years before they can get most Australian government payments or concession and health care cards. A maximum 2-year waiting period applies if you’re the holder of either:
Read more about the newly arrived resident’s waiting periods on the Australian government website Services Australia. The below newly arrived residents’ waiting periods are for New Zealand citizens living in Australia on an SCV.
If you’re a New Zealand citizen living in Australia you may be eligible to get Centrelink payments or concession cards. Which payments you can claim depends on the visa you have.
If you live in Australia and you are a protected SCV holder, you can claim any Centrelink payment or concession card.
If you live in Australia and you are a non-protected SCV holder, you may be able to claim the following:
If you have served, or have an exemption from the newly arrived resident’s waiting period (full list), you may also be able to claim:
If you’ve lived in Australia continuously for at least 10 years, you may be able to get a one-off period of payment. This is a single period of up to 6 months for one of the following payments:
You may also be able to get the Tertiary Access Payment.
If you are a New Zealand citizen and your family members are:
If you have had a New Zealand citizen baby born in Australia please see you had a baby for further information.
To sponsor a family member for Australian permanent residence, you must be:
If you are a permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen and your children were born in Australia, they may already be Australian citizens. You can apply for their proof of citizenship.
Read my post becoming an Australian permanent resident and then citizen for more information or visit the Australian government site ‘become an Australian citizen‘.
As a New Zealander holding an SCV, it is not necessary to apply for or be granted permanent residence in Australia. The SCV allows an NZ citizen to visit, study, live and work in Australia lawfully as long as that person remains an NZ citizen.
If you want to stay in Australia as a permanent visa holder, you can choose to apply for a permanent visa. Becoming an Australian permanent resident by holding a permanent visa may allow you to access extra entitlements. It may also allow you to apply for Australian citizenship.
Specialist immigration companies save you time, money and stress when applying for a visa. You are able to research and apply for a visa yourself on the Australian Government – Department of Immigration and Citizenship website.
However, immigration specialists are able to offer you professional advice and assistance when applying for any of the below visas or even deciding what visa is right for you, if any:
You can find an immigration specialist on the Australian Government website, Migration Agents Registration Authority (https://www.mara.gov.au/). Search Auckland for advisers specialising in Australia.
I don’t currently have an immigration specialist partner, however, I recommend you check out IMMagine: http://www.immigration.co.nz/. They offer a free preliminary evaluation to establish which Visa category may suit you and whether it’s worth your while ordering a comprehensive full assessment. Not many immigration companies do this. The next step is a full assessment where IMMagine will develop your detailed strategy, timeline and pricing structure in person or on Skype. Naturally, a small cost applies to this full and comprehensive assessment.
For nearly 30 years, IMMagine Australia and New Zealand have assisted migrants from all over the globe to move and settle in these two great countries.
They have delivered residence of both countries to close to 30,000 people since 1990, with a success rate of more than 99 per cent and are acknowledged as leaders in this profession on both sides of the Tasman Sea.
They understand the process of migration at a personal level and are not in the business of simply telling you what forms to fill in and lodge; they go beyond that. They become your allies and advocates and represent you to the Australian or New Zealand government in the most professional manner and leaving nothing to chance.
Complete a free preliminary evaluation and establish which Visa category may suit you and whether your dream of moving to Australia can become reality: http://www.immigration.co.nz/assessments/free-evaluation/.
For a small fee (AUD$15.00) you can post your question online and one of the IMMagine team will be in touch with your answer within 24 hours (usually same-day response). This service is designed for people who need quick access to accurate information, but don’t want to trawl through the internet to find the answers or commit to anything just yet. Most importantly, your questions are answered by licensed advisers living in New Zealand or Australia.
If you are moving to Australia and have been in court for anything please read this page and all the comments: https://www.movingtoaustralia.co.nz/are-you-wanting-to-move-to-australia-but-have-a-criminal-conviction/.
There are a lot of ways to get Australian visa and citizenship information and help on the internet. A few of the links are below:
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If you’ve read the above content and the answer to your question isn’t there, please write a comment below and I’ll research the answer for you. Please note, if the answer to your question is in the content above, I will not reply. Sorry, I just get too many questions these days and I can’t keep up.