New Zealand citizens are generally not eligible for HELP, unless they are also Australian citizens.
Most New Zealand citizens who arrive in Australia are the holders of temporary visas called a Special Category Visa (SCV). This is not a permanent visa. Although a SCV allows its holder to visit, live and work in Australia indefinitely, it does not give them access to HELP.
Following the 2001 changes to social security arrangements for New Zealanders, the Department of Home Affairs may issue a Certificate of Status of New Zealand Citizens in Australia (Form 1162) to New Zealand citizens who were:
- in Australia on 26 February 2001 as SCV holders
- outside Australia on 26 February 2001, but were in Australia as an SCV holder for at least one year in the two years prior to that date, and subsequently returned
- who have a certificate, issued under the Social Security Act 1991, stating that they are residing in Australia on a particular date.
While this certificate certifies the status of its holder as a permanent resident of Australia for the purposes of accessing certain social security payments, it does not give the holder access to HELP.
New Zealand Special Category Visa holder eligibility
From 1 January 2016, certain New Zealand Special Category Visa (SCV) holders have been eligible to access CSPs and HELP loans. On the test day, eligible New Zealand SCV holders:
- first began to be usually resident in Australia at least 10 years as a dependent minor (i.e. with no spouse or de facto partner) aged under 18 years
- have been physically present in Australia for a total of at least eight out of the past 10 years and 18 months out of the past two years; and
- meet the other eligibility criteria for a help loan under HESA.
The test day for assessing eligibility against the residency requirements is the day the student successfully applies for a HELP loan.
As with all existing HELP and CSP recipients, providers should confirm a person’s citizenship or visa status.
A person must meet the eligibility criteria holder on the day that they apply for HELP. As an SCV is a temporary visa that automatically ceases when a person leaves Australia, a New Zealand citizen must be in Australia on the date that they apply for Commonwealth assistance.
Should a student cease their SCV status (for example, by becoming a permanent resident), they will become ineligible for HELP for all units of study with a census date after the date they cease to be an SCV holder.
Ongoing students who have already completed and submitted a CAF and HECS-HELP form for their current course of study will only have to complete an Addendum for eligible New Zealand Special Category Visa Holders form (1300A) and not a new form.
For students commencing a new course, eligible SCV holders will need to fill out a CAF for the relevant HELP loan. This form will include a declaration that the applicant meets the eligibility criteria outlined above. The form will also require the student to provide evidence they have been living in Australia for the qualifying period.
Proof of residency
Students will not be required to attach evidence of residency to their CAF, but will need to provide evidence to their provider on or before the census date for their unit/s of study. Providers will be required to store this information as a Government record subject to the Archives Act 1983 and retain a copy (paper or electronic) for seven years in accordance with the requirements of that Act.
As a guide, proof of residency may include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Australian academic transcripts (including VET transcripts) dated when the applicant was a minor
- school reports or certificates
- enrolment papers from when the applicant was a minor
- Australian proof of age card from when the applicant was a minor
- Australian student ID card or concession card
- stamped passport
- payslips or payment summaries from when the applicant was a minor
- completed Certificate of application for a TFN, Tax File Number advice or notification of assessment of income tax dated from when the applicant was a minor.
If necessary, applicants can also obtain copies of their international movement records from the Department of Home Affairs by lodging a Request for International Movement Records form.
A provider should be satisfied that the applicant meets the citizenship criteria and has provided evidence of the eligibility criteria. A provider will need to ensure that the student has provided relevant documents, but it will not be required to verify student documentation. However, where a provider becomes aware of potentially fraudulent activity, it should contact the department to determine what action should be taken.
‘Test day’ means the first day the student successfully requested Commonwealth assistance for a unit that formed part of the same course of study. Otherwise, the test day is the day the student submits their relevant Request for Commonwealth assistance form.
Definition of ‘usually resident’
It is reasonable for a provider to request that the applicant supplies sufficient information that demonstrates that they were ‘usually resident’ in Australia as a dependent child. For periods of residency, the individual would have to demonstrate ‘usual residency’ in line with a common sense understanding of this term. Some considerations include whether they had a permanent residential address and had spent the overwhelming majority of their time in Australia. This definition also excludes periods spent in Australia that were temporary, e.g. holidays or short visits, while the person primarily resided in another country.