Key Points

Disclaimer: We are not migration experts. The information below is from our research into options for becoming Australian citizens. For professional advice, please see the links in the Professional Help section below.

As a New Zealand citizen, you have the right to work and live in Australia indefinitely. If you want to live in Australia for just a few years, and eventually return to New Zealand, the Special Category Visa (SCV) you receive on arrival may well do you just fine.

If you are intending to live in Australia permanently, however, then it might be a very good idea to consider becoming an Australian citizen. This will require you to become an Australian permanent resident first (and yes, you can become an Australian citizen without losing your status as a New Zealand citizen).

Although the SCV lets New Zealanders live and work in Australia indefinitely, it is a temporary, unprotected visa. This means that if you can't find work or you get sick, you won’t be able to access any unemployment or sickness benefits. If your child or another family member has a disability, you won’t be entitled to allowances like the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). And you can’t access study loans or allowances.

There are also a bunch of other good reasons why you should become a permanent resident and then a citizen (see below) - but the reasons above are those that commonly cause headaches for New Zealanders living in Australia on the SCV.

Why Apply For Permanent Residency?

The key benefits of becoming an Australian permanent resident rather than living in Australia on the unprotected SCV are:

Permanent Residency Options For New Zealanders

Not all New Zealanders will qualify for permanent residency and Australian citizenship, but we’ve listed a couple of options here that may apply to you.

The New Pathway To Permanent Residency For New Zealanders In 2017 - Subclass 189 (NZ)

In February 2016, a new pathway to Australian citizenship was announced for New Zealanders who’ve shown a long-term commitment and contribution to Australia. Here are some of the key details:

The Austalian Government has just updated the information available online about this new option for SCV holders. You can find out more about the subclass 189 (NZ) visa, including a checklist of all the steps you need to take, and links to apply online here and here.

This is the visa we’ll be looking at applying for in July 2017, so we’ll you with our personal experience once we've done it (you know, the things the govt can't or doesn't really want to tell you about their immigration procedures).

The Resident Return Visa

If you visited Australia before 1 September 1994 and cleared customs, you may be eligible for the Resident Return Visa (RRV), which reinstates your former Permanent Resident status.

Some key details of the RRV are:

Learn more about the RRV here.

Other Permanent Residency Visas

Aside from the two options listed above, there are a range of other permanent residency visa options currently available to New Zealanders. If you need to look into these options some more, here's a good place to start.

Becoming An Australian Citizen

Once you’ve been a permanent resident for 12 months or more, you can apply for Australian citizenship.

The key benefits of becoming an Australian citizen are that it allows you to:

Start here if you want the official and most up-to-date information on becoming an Australian citizen.

Citizenship For Children Born In Australia To New Zealanders

You might be eligible for Australian citizenship if one of the following applies to you:

If this might apply to you, read more here.

Professional Help

Applying for permanent residency or citizenship in Australia can be a daunting task, and the specifics of your situation could mean that general advice is not definitive enough for you to determine your eligibility for permanent residency or citizenship.

If your circumstances are not covered by the guidelines above, you might want to consider getting professional help either by contacting the Department of Immigration and Border Protection or by using the services of a registered migration agency.

We wish you well in your quest to become an Australian permanent resident or citizen!

Still have questions about becoming an Australian citizen? Check out our discussion forum where you can ask questions that can be answered by us and other readers.