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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Special Category Visa is a type of Australian visa granted to most New Zealand citizens on arrival in Australia. New Zealand Citizens may then reside in Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement.



The Special Category Visa was introduced on 1 September 1994 by the Migration Regulations 1994. It is known as a subclass 444 visa. Prior to 1 September 1994, New Zealanders were generally treated as exempt non citizens in Australia.

Most New Zealanders are eligible for a Special Category Visa (SCV) except:

  • those with significant health problems or criminal records
  • those who hold temporary or permanent Australian visas
  • those who arrive in Australia using another passport (eg if holding dual nationality). In this case an SCV can be obtained at a Department of Immigration office in Australia upon production of a valid New Zealand passport
  • those who arrive for specified purposes, such as diplomats and visiting forces, who are normally granted a special purpose visa instead.


The SCV is granted upon arrival to Australia. It ceases when the holder departs Australia (for any reason) but a new SCV is granted on return.

The SCV is technically a temporary visa. However, prior to 26 February 2001, SCV holders were generally treated the same as permanent residents in Australia. In 2001, Australia legislated that newly arrived New Zealanders would henceforth lose the benefits of permanent resident status but would be able to continue living and working in Australia as long term temporary residents.

Transitional arrangements

Transitional arrangements were put in place to allow many New Zealanders who were in Australia at the time of the change in the rules to be exempted [1] and Form 1154 (pdf)

Those New Zealanders covered by the transitional arrangements are considered to hold protected Special Category Visas. If they leave Australia and re-enter they will continue to be granted a protected SCV on arrival.

Many long term residents have slipped through the gaps of the transitional arrangements such as Russell Crowe, who was at The Brit Awards on 26 February 2001 [2] and working on A Beautiful Mind (film) in the period preceding.

Legal meaning of SCV

However the distinction between a protected SCV and any other kind of Special Category Visa is made by Australia's social security and citizenship legislation. There is no distinction under the immigration laws.

See also

Related categories


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