Information for New Zealanders living in Australia

Applying for a Resident Return Visa

Some Special Category Visa-holders are eligible for Permanent Residency.
Some Special Category Visa-holders are eligible for Permanent Residency.

Direct citizenship pathway

22 April 2023

Following a review of New Zealanders rights in Australia the Albanese Labor Government announced that non-protected Special Category Visa-holders who have resided in Australia for at least the past four years can apply directly for citizenship from the 1 July 2023 without needing to apply for a permanent visa, such as the Resident Return Visa.

The Resident Return Visa unnecessary for most non-protected SCVs. The one advantage is that time spent residing on the RRV counts towards New Arrived Residents Waiting Period (NARWP) for accessing Centrelink payments. It would also be beneficial to anyone requiring immediate access to the NDIS, or you spent at least four years residing in Australia prior to 26 February 2001, and require Centrelink support.

Apply online

Apply for a Resident Return Visa (RRV) online by creating an ImmiAccount. Paper-based RRV applications will incur an $80 non-internet fee.

Form 80

Home Affairs may request you complete Form 80 - Personal Details and Character Assessment.

Travelling overseas?

Your initial RRV has a 12-month travel facility. Re-entering Australia beyond the Must Not Arrive After date on your Visa Grant Notice will see you granted a Special Category Visa. Note: you may be eligible to apply for citizenship as a Special Category Visa. Refer to our Citizenship FAQs Resident Return Visa information.

Applying for a Resident Return Visa

The following information is intended for New Zealand citizens residing in Australia as non-protected Special Category Visa-holders. If you are a protected SCV you can apply for citizenship, provided you meet residency criteria.


New Zealanders entering Australia are a granted a Special Category Visa (SCV). The SCV is a temporary visa under the Migration Act. Some New Zealanders may be directly eligible for Australian citizenship.

Prior to 1 September 1994 New Zealanders were automatically granted permanent residency upon entering Australia. A Resident Return Visa (RRV) enables them to reinstate that former permanent residency. Twelve months after being granted RRV they can apply for citizenship, provided they have resided in Australia for at least four years immediately prior to applying.

NZ family relationship visa (461)

Once granted RRV or Australian citizenship you cannot renew a Family Relationship 461 visa because you are no longer an SCV-holder. When a family member's current 461 visa expires you will have to sponsor them for a Partner visa or Child visa.

Student loans

If you sponsor your child for a permanent visa they will not be eligible for a HELP loan until they attend their citizenship ceremony.

Eligibility for a Resident Return Visa

New Zealanders are eligible to apply for a Resident Return Visa (RRV) provided they entered Australia as a New Zealand citizen before 1 September 1994. They are eligible even if they were:

For more information read Eligibility for a Resident Return Visa.

When applying for RRV:

When applying for RRV New Zealanders:

Confirm your arrival date

When applying for RRV you must know the exact date you first entered Australia. All your previous travel is linked to your current passport. Even if you did not require a passport, there should still be a record of your visit because Incoming Passenger Cards have always been required.

It is recommended that all RRV applicants request their travel records.

Apply online

New Zealanders can now apply for RRV online by creating an ImmiAccount. Paper-based RRV applications will incur an $80 non-internet fee.

Completing your application guide

Applying for RRV can be confusing. Refer to completing your RRV application for some guidance.

Written statements

You will need to provide a written statement of your substantial ties to Australia now, and compelling reasons for any continuous absence from Australia greater than five years. For a longer absence you will need to provide more than one reason, or an ongoing reason. Include as many details as possible in your written statement.

The Department of Home Affairs has provided some information about preparing your written statements.

Character test

All criminal convictions, including historical, “spent” or minor sentences, must be declared on your RRV application. Failure to do so will see your application declined. You will also fail the character requirements if you have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, including historical offending or multiple short sentences totalling more than 12 months. A suspended sentence, where no jail time was served, is still a prison sentence.

Police checks

Home Affairs will tell you if you need to provide any police checks.

Application fee

The Resident Return Visa online application fee at July 2024 is $475 If you choose to submit a paper application form you will also be charged an $80 non-internet application fee.

Payment via ImmiAccount

Payment must be made electronically through the My Payments section of your ImmiAccount. Lodge your application within 30 days of making your online payment.

Supporting documents

After submitting your RRV application and payment online you will receive a confirmation email/letter with a Transaction Reference Number (TRN). You can then upload scans or photos of your supporting documents and certified passport photo page. Do not send Home Affairs any original documents.

Scans and photos must be in colour, one document per file. Ensure they are clear. If a document is more than one page, save it all as one file. Give files a descriptive name, for example, Joan Smith birth certificate.

Note: the ImmiAccount system will only upload jpg files smaller than 500 KB each.

Processing time

The Department of Home Affairs reports processing times for Resident Return Visa applications on its website.

If the Department of Home Affairs requires additional information or supporting documents you will be given 28 days to provide them. Keep them informed if there will be delay in obtaining documentation.

The Visa Grant Notice confirmation letter are emailed to you.

After being granted RRV

Being granted a Resident Return Visa makes you a Permanent Resident and allows you to reside in Australia indefinitely. Note: your Resident Return Visa has a 12-month travel capacity.

If you change address or renew your passport use your ImmiAccount to update your details.

RRV travel capacity

Because New Zealanders haven't resided in Australia as a Permanent Resident for at least two of the last five years, they are initially granted a 12 month travel capacity. Keep a copy of your Visa Grant Notice with your passport and confirm your PR status at the airport Immigration desk. It will be located just past the Customs counters and SmartGate scanners.

Please be aware that:

Check your visa status using Home Affair's VEVO system.


Completing the RRV application form

Refer to the Resident Return Visa information on the Department of Home Affairs website

Technical help

If you cannot resolve an issue with your application, refer to Common issues and error messages and ImmiAccount Technical Support on the Home Affairs website.

Have a question?

Click the Ask a Question box on Home Affairs website to use the digital assistant. It may not work with Mozilla Firefox in private browsing mode.

Alternatively, email the RRV processing team or phone the Department of Home Affairs on 13 18 81.


The above “Applying for a Resident Return visa” information should not be relied on as an alternative to advice from the Department of Home Affairs, or a professional immigration services provider.

If you have any specific questions about an immigration matter, you should consult the Department of Home Affairs or a professional immigration services provider.