188.8.131.52 New Zealand citizens
Before 1 September 1994 New Zealand citizens were allowed to enter Australia to visit, work or live without a visa. They had to travel on their New Zealand passport to take advantage of these arrangements.
Special category visa
The SCV for New Zealanders was introduced on 1 September 1994. It allows a New Zealand citizen to remain in Australia indefinitely. Unlike other visas there is no formal application process for an SCV. Instead, on arrival to Australia, most New Zealand citizens who do not hold another visa and who present a valid New Zealand passport and completed Incoming Passenger Card, are considered to have applied for an SCV.
If the SCV is manually granted by an Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS) officer, the visa holder will be notified of their SCV grant by way of a Port and Date stamp in their passport. If the SCV is granted via an authorised system such as SmartGate, notification of the SCV grant is via a general notice in immigration clearance. Those granted an SCV by SmartGate may request to have their passport Port and Date stamped by an ACPBS officer after proceeding through SmartGate.
SCV holders cannot be given visa labels. There are no work restrictions for SCV holders.
Changes from 26 February 2001
In general, most New Zealanders arriving in Australia on an SCV after 26 February 2001 no longer meet the definition of an Australian resident for the purpose of SSAct section 7. Because of this, unless they are regarded as a 'protected SCV holder' (see below), they are no longer entitled to Australian social security payments and are required to be the holder of a permanent visa in order to qualify for a social security payment. These arrangements do not affect the free movement of people between the 2 countries. New Zealand citizens will have the choice of either applying for a permanent visa or applying for an SCV when they decide to move to Australia. Either visa will continue to allow the holder to visit, live and work indefinitely in Australia.
Protected SCV holders
An SCV holder regarded as a protected SCV holder is not affected by the 26 February 2001 changes and continues to meet the definition of an Australian resident for the purpose of the SSAct. A person is a protected SCV holder if they fall within one of the following groups:
- an SCV holder who was in Australia on 26 February 2001
- an SCV holder who was in Australia as an SCV holder for a period of, or periods totalling, 12 months during the period 2 years immediately before 26 February 2001
- an SCV holder who commenced or recommenced residing in Australia within 3 months from 26 February 2001, or
- an SCV holder who was residing in Australia on 26 February 2001, but was temporarily absent.
Some of the protected SCV holder provisions had a time limit in which the person had to seek a determination of their residence status from Centrelink, in order to preserve their entitlement to social security payments in the future. A determination by a New Zealand citizen to be regarded as a protected SCV holder needed to be made following a request to Centrelink for a decision or by claiming and being residentially qualified for a social security payment. Either determination protected a person's future entitlement to social security payments.
|If the SCV holder …||then they needed to …|
|commenced/recommenced residing in Australia by 26 May 2001||apply for a determination by 26 February 2004.|
|was residing in Australia, but temporarily absent on 26 February 2001, and NOT in receipt of an Australian social security payment||apply for a determination by 26 February 2002.|
|was residing in Australia, but temporarily absent on 26 February 2001, and in receipt of an Australian social security payment||return to Australia by 26 August 2001 (or their portability extension date) to be given an automatic residence status determination.|
Note: It is important to check that the person meets the definition of an Australian resident at SSAct subsection 7(2) and the definition of protected SCV holder at SSAct subsections 7(2A) to (2G). Any additional residence conditions (such as waiting periods) for the payment being claimed must also be checked. Any references to the 'holder of a permanent visa' do not apply to the holder of an SCV, but references to 'Australian resident' do apply to protected SCV holders.
There is a safety net for New Zealand citizens who are the holders of an SCV who arrived in Australia at any time on or after 26 February 2001 and do not meet the definition of an Australian resident for social security purposes.
SCV holders may be exempt from the residence requirements and able to qualify for a one-off period of payment for up to 6 months of either SA, NSA or YA and subject to other qualification requirements if immediately before claiming, they:
- are the holder of an SCV, and
- have resided in Australia continuously for at least 10 years since 26 February 2001.
For more information regarding the residence requirements for NSA, SA and YA SCV holders see the following pages:
International social security agreement with New Zealand
Persons with previous residence in New Zealand who lodge a claim for Age (over 65), DSP (and are severely disabled), or CP (as carers of their DSP partner) should be referred to CIS. They may be eligible for an Australian benefit under the social security agreement with New Zealand, irrespective of whether they are protected or non-protected SCV holders residing in Australia.