9.1.2.40 New Zealand citizens

Introduction

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. There are no work restrictions for SCV holders.

New Zealand citizens do not have to apply for an SCV prior to coming to Australia. 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 will be granted an SCV, subject to meeting health and character requirements. The SCV is added electronically to their passport.

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. Unless they are regarded as a 'protected SCV holder' (see below), they are not entitled to Australian social security payments, except in limited circumstances (see below). New Zealanders who are not a protected SCV holder must apply for and be granted a permanent visa in order to meet the definition of an Australian resident.

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 could be applied for by making 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: To residentially qualify for a social security payment, the person must meet the definition of an Australian resident at SSAct subsection 7(2) and the definition of protected SCV holder at SSAct subsections 7(2A) to subsection 7(2G). Additional residence conditions (such as waiting periods) may apply, depending on the payment. 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.

JSP, SA & YA

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 JSP, SA, 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 JSP, SA and YA SCV holders see the following pages:

Note: This safety net previously applied to NSA. NSA was replaced by JSP from 20 March 2020. SA closed to all new recipients on 20 March 2020 and ceases on 20 September 2020 (1.2.5.30). People who would previously have qualified for SA can apply for JSP instead.

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) 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.

Act reference: SSAct section 7(2) An Australian resident is a person who …, section 7(2A) to section 7(2G) A person is a protected SCV holder if …

SS(IntAgree)Act Schedule 3 New Zealand

Last reviewed: 20 March 2020