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Special Category Visa


In order to establish residency, it must first be decided if a person is an Australian resident. One definition of an Australian resident is a person who resides in Australia, is the holder of a special category visa and is likely to remain permanently in Australia. Below are details of what constitutes a special category visa.     

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Who's Eligible

A special category visa is issued to New Zealand citizens entering Australia that permits them to live and work in Australia indefinitely. There is no formal application process for the visa. When the New Zealand passport is presented at immigration clearance, it will be stamped showing the date of arrival in Australia. This is the only evidence provided, or necessary to show they are holders of a special category visa.

An Australian resident is a person who:

  • resides in Australia; and
  • is one of the following:
  • an Australian citizen;
  • the holder of a permanent visa;
  • the holder of a special category visa who is likely to remain permanently in Australia;
  • the holder of a special purpose visa who is likely to remain permanently in Australia.

Australia is defined in the Acts Interpretations Act 1901 and includes the following territories and Islands:

  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Subsection 5Q(1) of the VEA provides specifically that the definition of Australia includes the external territories for many VEA purposes including Part III, IIIAB, some parts of Part IIIB, Parts IIID, VIIA, VIIC and sections 52ZO, 58A, and 132.  Norfolk Island is currently the only external territory of Australia. For the above VEA sections, which cover service pension, [glossary:income support supplement:118], pension bonus, pension loans scheme, Veterans supplement, pension supplement and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card purposes it is considered to be part of Australia. The test of residing in Australia does not by itself satisfy the full definition of Australian Resident, as residency also requires Australian citizenship or the holding of a specified visa.

Papua New Guinea and Nauru have both previously been external territories of Australia.  Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island, formerly regarded as separate islands, are now part of mainland NSW and Tasmania respectively.