Applying for Australian citizenship

As a New Zealand citizen, you can apply for citizenship if you hold either:

  • a permanent visa, or
  • an SCV.

The Special Category Visa (“SCV”) Subclass 444 is a type of visa issued by the Australian government to citizens of New Zealand. The SCV allows New Zealand citizens to live, work, and study in Australia indefinitely, as long as they meet certain criteria.

Key points about the SCV:

  1. Automatic Grant: New Zealand citizens are granted the SCV upon arrival in Australia. They do not need to apply for this visa separately.
  2. Rights and Privileges: The SCV allows New Zealand citizens to live, work, and study in Australia indefinitely. They have access to healthcare through Medicare and can access certain social security benefits.
  3. Temporary Nature: The SCV is considered a temporary visa, and it does not provide the same rights as Australian citizens or permanent residents. For example, SCV holders do not have access to certain government benefits and are not eligible for Australian citizenship by default. Many NZ citizens living in Australia are under the misbelief that they hold permanent residency status. HOWEVER, New Zealand citizens holding an SCV are considered permanent residents for citizenship application purposes.
  4. Residency Requirement: To be eligible for certain benefits and services, such as Australian citizenship, New Zealand citizens holding an SCV may need to meet additional residency requirements, such as living in Australia for a specified period of time.

Overall, the SCV facilitates the movement of New Zealand citizens to Australia, but it’s essential for individuals to understand its limitations and any additional requirements they may need to meet for specific privileges or benefits.

The process to become an Australian citizen is the same for all New Zealand citizens holding an SCV and does not depend on when you first arrived in Australia.

  • New Zealand citizens must meet the general residence requirement of being lawfully present in Australia for four years, including 12 months as a permanent resident, immediately before the date of citizenship application.
  • You do not need to first apply for and be granted a permanent visa to meet the 12 months as a permanent resident requirement. Time on your SCV will be considered permanent residence for citizenship purposes with effect from 1 July 2023.
  • Note: if you are a New Zealand citizen who was born in Australia, you may already be an Australian citizen by operation of law.

General Residence Requirement

When you apply you must:

  • have been living in Australia on a valid visa for 4 years immediately before the day you apply and
  • hold a permanent visa or an SCV for the last 12 months immediately before the day you apply and
  • not have been absent from Australia for more than 12 months in total in the past 4 years, including no more than 90 days in total in the 12 months immediately before applying.

For children 16 or 17 years old, if meeting this requirement would cause significant hardship or disadvantage, you will need to provide proof.

Children under 16 do not need to meet the general residence requirement but must be a permanent resident.

If you are an SCV holder you will continue to be considered a permanent resident for citizenship purposes while outside Australia, provided you held an SCV immediately before your departure.

Changes to the permanent residency commencement date apply for certain New Zealand citizens holding an SCV or a New Zealand stream Skilled Independent (subclass 189) visa.

Keystone Visa and Migration Services  can assist with your Citizenship Application.

For further assistance with applying for Australian Citizenship, please contact us at [email protected]