Special Category Visa
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 indefinitely 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 (e.g. 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. New Zealanders are not told they have a visa and in many cases their passports are not even stamped. It ceases when the holder departs Australia (for any reason), but a new SCV is granted on return.
The SCV is technically classified as a temporary visa, despite its holders residence in Australia not being subject to any limitation as to time imposed by law.
Until 26 February 2001, SCV holders were generally treated the same as permanent visa holders. Beginning in 2001, Australia has introduced a number of laws that have dramatically curtailed the rights of SCV holders. Now, while they remain in Australia to live and work indefinitely, they enjoy rights inferior to others residing permanently there and are ineligible to apply for Australian citizenship.
Permanent Resident status
SCV holders fit the commonly understood meaning of the term 'permanent resident' as they are entitled to live in Australian indefinitely, in much the same way as an Australian citizen or a permanent visa holder. However, they are excluded from definitions of this term in some Australian legislation.
Even in federal migration and citizenship law, there is no standard definition of the term and SCV holders are treated inconsistently.
Section 204 of the Migration Act 1958 includes all SCV holders within the definition of 'permanent resident' on the basis they 'not subject to any limitation as to time imposed by law'.
The Migration Regulations 1994 exclude all SCV holders from the definition of 'Australian permanent resident', including only permanent visa holders within the definition.
The Australian Citizenship Act 2007 empowers the relevant minister to declare by legislative instrument whether SCV holders are permanent residents for the purpose of the act. The current legislative instrument includes some SCV holders, while excluding others.
Those New Zealanders covered by the transitional arrangements are considered to be protected Special Category Visa holders. They hold exactly the same visa as other New Zealanders living in Australia, but are granted significantly greater rights in respect to access to government services and payments and eligibility for Australian citizenship.
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  and working on A Beautiful Mind in the period preceding.
Human rights issues
Differential Treatment of special category visa holders by State Governments or corporations is illegal under state Human Rights legislation (see    ). Under Federal law the status is less clear. A petition asking for the federal parliament to reverse the 2001 changes has been formed and can be found here: https://www.change.org/petitions/help-change-laws-that-are-preventing-kiwis-living-in-australia-from-becoming-australian-citizens . A possible separate legal challenge is also been planned against the Citizenship Act 
Campaigns to end Government discrimination against New Zealand immigrants on SCVs have been setup including Oz Kiwi and farego4all. They believe that all hard-working, tax-paying New Zealand residents who have made Australia their home should be given the same opportunities to become citizens of Australia as afforded to all other long-term residents.
- Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement
- Australian nationality law
- New Zealand nationality law
- Permanent Resident of Norfolk Island visa
- Temporary protection visa
- "Fact Sheet 17 - New Zealanders in Australia". Department of Immigration and Citizenship. Retrieved 15 April 2008.