According to recent reports our Trans-Tasman neighbours are ‘flocking’ to Australia in record numbers. Data from the Department of Immigration & Citizenship indicates that over 600,000 New Zealand citizens are currently based in Australia.
Since the 1920’s the Australian and New Zealand Governments have had arrangements in place to allow the free flow of people between the two countries.
Movement between countries is dependent on the mostly dependent on economic conditions in each country. When economic times are better in Australia, we see a higher number of New Zealand citizens in Australia.
Special Category Visa (SCV)
Since 1 September 1994, all non-citizens in Australia must hold a substantive visa. The Australian Government introduced the Special Category Visa (SCV) for New Zealand citizens.
The SCV is a temporary visa issued to a New Zealand citizen, when they present their valid New Zealand passport for Australian immigration clearance. The visa is automatically applied for by presenting their passport and recorded electronically. New Zealand citizens who were in Australia prior to 1 September 1994 automatically became SCV holders on this date.
The SCV visa can be granted to people who became New Zealand citizens after their arrival in Australia, or who entered Australia on another passport. An application for the SCV can be made to the Department of Immigration & Citizenship, subject to all health and character requirements.
The SCV will allow a New Zealand citizen to enter Australia to visit, live and/or work on a temporary basis for as long as they hold a valid New Zealand passport. The New Zealand citizen may also attach dependent family members such as a spouse or children to their SCV visa.
However, as the holder of an SCV the New Zealand citizen is not an Australian permanent resident and cannot sponsor their family members for a permanent visa, obtain Australian citizenship or access certain social security benefits (not covered by the bilateral agreement).
New Zealand Family Relationship Visa (Subclass 461)
The Subclass 461 visa allows a New Zealand citizen to attach a dependent to their SCV visa. To be eligible, the non-New Zealand family member must be related to the SCV holder as one of the following:
- Their partner
- Their (or their partner’s) dependent child
- The dependent child or their (or their partner’s) dependent child
- Their (or their partner’s) relative who meets additional dependency criteria.
Once granted the Subclass 461 visa holder is able to visit, live and work in Australia temporarily for up to five years. The visa can be renewed for a further term and may even be renewed if the relationship with the New Zealand citizen has ended. Please contact our visa team for further information on the Subclass 461 visa.
Australian Permanent Residency
Does a New Zealand citizen need permanent residency? Although the SCV is a temporary visa, travel arrangements are more flexible than those that generally exist for Australian permanent residents. The SCV also permits the New Zealand citizen to remain indefinitely in Australia (on a temporary visa) for as long as they remain a New Zealand citizen.
However the SCV is not a permanent visa and therefore does not afford the same rights and benefits as an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
Limitations to the benefits and services a New Zealand citizen receives in Australia were implemented in 2001. SCV holders are also not eligible to vote in Australian government elections, access student loans, join the Australian defence force or obtain ongoing work with the Australian government. Generally New Zealand citizens are not eligible to apply for Australian citizenship and must hold permanent resident status first.
To apply for Australian permanent residency, all skill, health and character requirements must Some visa programs such as the Employer Nomination Scheme and the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme require nomination by an Australian employer and allow the skill criteria to be waived for a New Zealand citizen.
Ultimately the decision to apply for an Australian permanent visa will be based on individual circumstances and we welcome the opportunity to discuss this with our Trans-Tasman neighbours.