Visa Options for NZ Citizens

NZ landscape

New Zealand Citizens are able to travel to Australia and remain here indefinitely with full work rights.

However, they are not eligible for the full range of government benefits or for Australian citizenship.

Obtaining Permanent Residence gives NZ citizens a much more secure status in Australia - this article explains the main visa options which are available for NZ Citizens.

NZ Citizens on Special Category Visas

If you are an NZ citizen, you would generally receive a Special Category Subclass 444 Visa (or SCV) on arrival to Australia.

Whilst this visa allows you to remain in Australia indefinitely with full work rights, it is considered a temporary visa only and is subject to some serious limitations.

If you are convicted of an offence requiring imprisonment of at least 12 months, you would be considered a "Behaviour Concern Non-Citizen". This would result in you being ineligible for the SCV, and potentially barred from entering Australia. NZ citizens are now the largest single nationality in immigration detention, due largely to character issues.

New Zealand citizens are eligible for some government payments (eg NZ citizens are not in general eligible for Australian citizenship, and so are not eligible to vote in Australia and certain jobs will not be open to them. They are also not able to sponsor relatives for permanent visas such as Partner or Parent visas.

NZ Citizens Settled in Australia Prior to 26 Feb 2001

If you were present in Australia prior to 26 February 2001, or had settled here before that date, you are considered an "Eligible New Zealand Citizen". In this case, you would have the same rights as an Australian Permanent Resident in terms of social security benefits, Australian citizenship and ability to sponsor relatives.

PR Pathway for NZ Citizens

There is a pathway to permanent residence open to NZ citizens who have been living and working in Australia for 5 years.

This will be an attractive option for many NZ citizens living in Australia as there are concessions on the usual application fee, English language requirement and health requirement. However, it is only available if you were usually resident in Australia as of 19 February 2016.

Employer Nomination Scheme

The Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) is a permanent employer sponsored visa which has concessions for NZ citizens working in Australia. There is a specific pathway for NZ citizens who have worked for their Australian employer in an occupation on the Medium-Long Term Skills Shortage List for 2 of the last 3 years. In this case, you are exempt from the usual skills assessment requirement for the Direct Entry ENS stream, and also the usual age requirement (currently the maximum age limit is 50 for the ENS visa).

NZ Citizen Family Members

New Zealand citizens can obtain NZ Citizen Family Relationship Subclass 461 visas for their partners and children. This visa is a 5-year temporary visa with full work and travel rights, and the possibility for continual renewals.


There are a range of permanent residence pathways available for NZ citizens.

You may consider applying for one of these if you would like to make sure that you and your family are secure to continue living in Australia and able to access benefits when you need them.

If you would like assistance in understanding the options available to you, please book a consultation with one of our advisors.

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