Australian Permanent Residency and Citizenship Options for NZ Citizens

The Australian citizenship pathways available to New Zealand citizens depends on your date of arrival in Australia.

Arrived in Australia before 26 February 2001

If you were in Australia on 26 February 2001 and the holder of a Special Category Visa (SCV), you may be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship.

If you happened to be out of Australia on 26 February, you may still be eligible if you spent 12 months in Australia on a SCV in the two years immediately before 26 February 2001.

Arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001

If you arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001, you need to obtain permanent residency before you can access social security, sponsor family members or apply for Australian citizenship. The Special Category Visa that you most likely arrived on is in fact a temporary visa.

If you wish to secure permanent residency in Australia (and a pathway to citizenship), you can consider any of the permanent residency visas open to all prospective migrants, for example, partner visas, employer sponsored visas.

Arrived in Australia between 27 February 2001 and 19 February 2016

From 1 July 2017, there has been an additional pathway open for NZ citizens to permanent residency. This pathway is contained within the Skilled Independent subclass 189 visa and may be available for you if you arrived in Australia between 27 February 2001 and 19 February 2016.

The pathway is for New Zealand Special Category (subclass 444) visa (SCV) holders who were usually resident in Australia on or before 19 February 2016 and who, at the time of lodging an application, have resided in Australia for at least five years.

The application criteria includes:

  • contributing to Australia, demonstrated through income tax returns which show taxable income at least equivalent to the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT) for the qualifying period; and
  • meeting mandatory health, character and security checks.

If you did arrive in Australia before 19 February 2016, for most people, this will be the most straight forward path to permanent residency. If you are granted the subclass 189, you will be eligible to apply for Australian citizenship after 12 months.