Status of New Zealand Citizens

Please note: Information provided on our website and social media

is intended as a guide and general educational resource only.

The only way to know what is best for each individual case is to book an assessment.  

Erina is a highly experienced and knowledgeable registered migration agent

who specialises solely in the migration matters of New Zealand citizens who live in Australia.


One of the most difficult concepts to teach in migration law is understanding the immigration status of New Zealand citizens in Australia.


The main reason being is because our status and its meaning has changed over time due to historical changes in the Migration and Citizenship Acts or upon the actions of individual New Zealand citizens when seeking to change their immigration status.


As a result of the historical changes and/or actions of individuals, New Zealand citizens don't all hold the same immigration status. These changes will have a direct impact on any choices we may or may not have when seeking to secure our immigration status.


But before I go on, the most secure immigration status we can possibly hold is, Australian citizenship. Fortunately, New Zealand and Australia allow dual citizenship which means, as New Zealand citizens we can be both New Zealand and Australian dual citizens.

In Australia there are two distinct differences in immigration statuses:

1. Australian citizen

2. Non-[Australian] citizen

Section 13 & 14 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth)

All non-citizens are divided into two distinct groups:


1. Lawful Non-citizens

2. Unlawful Non-citizens

Lawful non-citizens hold a visa which is effect or an allowed inhabitant of the Protected Zone. There are two distinct groups of visas:

1. Permanent visas

2. Temporary visas

Unlawful non-citizens do not hold a visa which allows them to be in Australia. Under Australian migration law, unlawful non-citizens are not permitted to remain freely in the community. Instead they must either be granted another visa or be detained, usually within an immigration detention facility and removed from Australia as soon as possible.

Section 30 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth)

How does a non-citizen become an unlawful non-citizen?

1. Overstaying their temporary visa

2. Losing their permanent visa somehow - usually by not adhering to the conditions of that visa or travelling on an expired permanent visa without renewing it

3. Had their visa cancelled - either through failing character requirements or failing to adhere to the conditions of their visa

How does a non-citizen ensure they remain a lawful?

1. Understand what visa they are on

2. Understand the conditions associated with that visa

3. Ensure they apply for and are granted a new visa when/if necessary

4. Keep their contact information updated with the Department of Home Affairs eg email, address, phone number

5. Keep a check on any possible updates or changes to their visa status

What happens if a person becomes unlawful?

The answer will first depend on what caused the individual to become unlawful. The key consequences are:

1. Limited visa options available that can be applied for

2. The person may be able to go offshore and apply for and be granted a new visa then re-enter Australia as a lawful non-citizen again

3. In some cases of visa cancellations, there may be prescribed circumstances where people may seek to have their decision reviewed and the decision to cancel their visa revoked. In other words, their visa is reinstated as if it had not been cancelled in the first instance.

4. Once removed, a prescribed ban period from reapplying for a new visa and re-entering Australia

5. Once removed, a lifetime ban from re-entering Australia

6. In some cases, a person will be billed for the time they were detained and costs of removal


What if the non-citizen has been living in Australia for most of their life?


Again, depending upon the reason for becoming an unlawful non-citizen the same rules apply, regardless of whether the person has been here for a relatively short time or a very long time.

As you can see, it is crucial to understand your own status

and how you might take care of your status in order to remain lawful at all times. 

New Zealand citizens are exempted from applying for a visa to travel to Australia and provided certain criteria are met, issued a Special Category Visa (SCV), subclass TY444.

The TY444 visa is a temporary visa enabling New Zealand citizens to be lawful non-citizens whilst in Australia.

To be granted the TY444 visa, the applicant must present a New Zealand passport AND neither a behaviour concern non-citizen (BCNC)* nor a health concern non-citizen (HCNOC)**.

*If you have had criminal convictions, been deported, excluded or removed from any country, including Australia you may be considered a BCNC.

**If yo have untreated tuberculosis you may be considered a HCNC.

The TY444 ceases to exist each time a New Zealand citizen leaves Australia and a new TY444 is reissued upon each entry back into Australia, regardless of whether the person lives in Australia permanently or not.

Section 32 of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth)


New Zealand citizens that don't hold a TY444 visa will either hold an absorbed person visa or have applied for and been granted a permanent visa such as a Resident Return Visa/subclass 155 , Skilled Independent visa/subclass 189, Partner visa/subclass 801, Child sponsor visa/subclass 820 or a variety of other permanent visas they may have applied for and been granted. Either way, a New Zealand citizen who holds a permanent visa will usually be aware of it because they have had to go through a stringent process to apply, paid a visa application fee and will have a Visa Grant Notification in the form of a letter issued to them.


The other ways a person may check their visa status is to run a Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) check or apply for their official movement record from the Department of Home Affairs. This can be done by the applicant themselves or through a registered migration agent, organisation or government agency. or Some New Zealand citizens may even have a special sticker in their passport but these are no longer issued anymore due to everything being issued electronically.

When New Zealand citizens enter Australia we fill in an incoming passenger card.


Did you know, that when a New Zealand citizen completes an incoming passenger card (IPC) using their New Zealand passport, this is actually a visa application for the Special Category Visa, subclass TY444?


Once a New Zealand citizen has been processed through immigration clearance (customs) we are automatically granted a Special Category Visa (SCV), subclass TY444.

Did you know, that a TY444 ceases to exist each time a New Zealand citizen leaves Australia and a new TY444 visa is granted each time that New Zealand citizen enters Australia?


Most New Zealand citizens hold a Special Category Visa, subclass TY444 yet up until recent years, most were completely unaware they even held a visa, let alone what their visa status was.


Why did New Zealand citizens not know they held a visa? Surely every migrant into Australia would know right?


Wrong, and here's the reason why.

When the SCV was introduced on the 1st September 1994, New Zealanders were not formally informed. Nor is the IPC an obvious visa application form because it does not have any information on it to show that it is a visa application form like all other visa application forms. Nor is there a visa grant letter given to New Zealand citizens at the time of processing through immigration clearance. 

As a result, we have a large population of New Zealand citizens who are unaware of their immigration status and furthermore the potential risks and dangers their immigration status can pose.

In order to apply for Australian citizenship, you must be classed as a permanent resident. A permanent resident generally holds a permanent visa before they are able to apply for Australian citizenship. However, there is a status of New Zealand citizens that are considered permanent residents for the purposes of applying for Australian citizenship. This group of New Zealand citizens are otherwise known as 'Protected SCV holders' or 'Eligible New Zealand citizens'.

Eligible New Zealand citizens are the only group of migrant in Australia that hold a temporary visa but permanent resident status at the same time. For further information go to our link Eligible New Zealand citizens.

Nga mihi

Erina Morunga

MARN: 1797713