How does a New Zealander become an Australian Citizen

New Zealand citizens do not need to apply for a visa before coming to Australia. In most cases, they will be granted a Subclass 444 Special Category Visa (SCV) on arrival. This visa allows New Zealand citizens to live, work and study in Australia for as long as they want. Therefore, many New Zealand citizens do not apply for a permanent visa in Australia. However, if you are thinking of becoming an Australian citizen and enjoy the benefits of being an Australian citizen, the SCV visa is not always a direct pathway to Australian citizenship.


What are the benefits of being an Australian citizen?

There are many benefits of being an Australian citizen. Some of them include:

  • Visa-free travel
  • Australian consular support
  • Participate in Australian politics
  • Vote in elections
  • Federal government jobs

You can find out more here.

Eligible New Zealand Citizen

In most cases, an SCV does not provide a direct pathway to citizenship. New Zealand citizens are required to apply for permanent residency and then apply for citizenship. However, if you meet the following criteria, you can apply for citizenship right away:

  • You were in Australia on 26 February 2001 on an SCV, or
  • You were outside Australia on 26 February 2001, but you have spent at least 12 months in Australia on an SCV in the two years immediately before 26 February 2001, or
  • Have Centrelink certificate from before 26 February 2001 that shows you were living in Australia

You can apply directly under citizenship by conferral. More information about citizenship by conferral can be found here.

Arrived in Australia after 26 February 2001

If you miss the cut-off date (26 February 2001), you will have to apply for permanent residency before you can become an Australian citizen. Once you have permanent residency in Australia, you are able to apply for citizenship by conferral.

Subclass 189 Skilled Independent Visa – New Zealand stream

Subclass 189 Skilled Independent Visa – New Zealand stream is one permanent visa option for New Zealand citizens. To be eligible, you must:

To promote take-up of the SC 189 New Zealand Stream visa, the government has extended the eligibility to SC 444 Special Category visa holders who meet the income threshold for at least three of the last five income years (previously 4 out of 5). More information regarding this announcement will be provided by the government in the future.

Under the new changes, to be eligible for the SC 189 New Zealand Stream visa, the applicant must:

  • Be holding a Special Category (subclass 444) visa
  • Have resided in Australia for at least the last 5 years
  • Have started living in Australia on or before 19 February 2016
  • Have the taxable income (see below table) at or above the income threshold for at least 3 of the last 5 income years prior to lodging an application
  • meet health, character and security checks.

The cost of this visa is $4,045, and it takes approximately 15 to 25 months to process.

Other permanent residency options

If you do not meet the requirement for a Subclass 189 – New Zealand stream, there are other pathways for you to become a permanent resident in Australia. The commons visa options include:

Subclass 189 – Skilled Independent Visa

Subclass 190 – Skilled Nominated Visa

Subclass 186 – Employer Nomination Scheme

Subclass 801/820 – Partner Visa

These visas are permanent or may lead to permanent residency in Australia. As a permanent resident, you can then become eligible for citizenship.

Citizenship by conferral

Once you have this visa, you are considered a permanent resident of Australia. This means that you will be eligible to apply for citizenship if you meet the residence requirement.

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