Resident Return Visas - How to maintain permanent residence for Australia

  • Only Australian citizens can automatically enter Australia. People with permanent visas can stay in Australia forever, but if they want to travel internationally, they need a way to come back to Australia.

    That's where resident return visas (RRVs) come in. They let certain people who are, or have been, permanent residents or citizens of Australia travel internationally and come back to Australia as permanent residents.

    The Australian government has a plan to bring successful migrants to the country, so they can help make Australia better. RRVs support this by:

    1. Letting non-citizen permanent residents, former permanent residents, and former citizens return to Australia.
    2. Making sure that only those who really want to live in Australia, or who help the country, can come back as permanent residents.

    There are two main types of RRVs:

    1. Five-Year Resident Return Visa (Subclass 155): This permanent visa allows you to travel in and out of Australia for up to 5 years. To get this visa, you need to have lived in Australia as a permanent resident for at least 2 years in the past 5 years. Most people (over 80%) meet this requirement. If you don't, you might still be able to get a travel facility for up to 12 months.

    2. Three-Month Resident Return Visa (Subclass 157): This permanent visa allows you to travel in and out of Australia for 3 months. It's usually given to people who don't qualify for the BB-155 visa. For example, if you just started living in Australia and need to travel overseas for important and compassionate reasons

    Do contact us to discuss the requirements, how you can meet these or develop strategies to meet in the future. 

    It is not necessary to hold a RRV continuously and an application can be made for a RRV even after a previous RRV has ceased.
  • To get a visa that lets you travel for 5 years you need to have lived in Australia for at least 2 years in the past 5 years as a permanent resident or Australian citizen. This is called "lawful presence in Australia." The goal of this 5-year travel visa is to give better travel options to permanent residents living in Australia compared to those living outside Australia.

    When checking if you qualify, officers will look at the times you were in Australia during the 5 years before you apply:

    1. You must have been a permanent visa holder and/or an Australian citizen during those 2 years.
    2. You don't need to have lived in Australia for 2 years straight, as long as the total time you spent there is at least 2 years (730 days). Note: If you had a temporary visa or no visa during the last 5 years, it doesn't mean you can't meet the "2 years in 5" requirement.
    3. You can't count any time you had a temporary visa (except for a Border visa or ETA you held at the same time as a permanent visa) or a bridging visa (even if it wasn't active) towards the 2-year total.

  • A Resident Return Visa (subclass 155) with up to 1 year travel facility may be granted where the applicant is a permanent resident (or former permanent resident or former citizen) is part of the family unit of a person who either holds a valid Resident Return Visa (subclass 155) or has applied for a Resident Return Visa (subclass 155) and will meet the criteria for that visa to be granted.

    You're considered part of someone else's family unit if you are their spouse, or their dependent child. A dependent child is generally under 18 years old, or 18 to 22 years old, single and dependent on a parent or step-parent. There are some limited circumstances where a child over 22 years can be considered a dependent child where the child is incapacitated for work due to disabilities.

    For example a husband living overseas could obtain a Resident Return Visa (subclass 155) with up to 1 year travel facility if his wife is living in Australia and has obtained a Resident Return Visa (subclass 155).
  • To get a visa that lets you travel for 1 year you need to demonstrate substantial, business, cultural, employment or personal ties of benefit to Australia and not been absent from Australia for 5 years or more unless there are compelling reasons. This give officers the flexibility to grant a 1-year travel visa to people with strong connections to Australia who are helping the country but haven't lived there enough in the past 5 years.

    These rules acknowledge that people's lives change, and they might spend time in other countries for personal or business reasons. When assessing ties to Australia, officers should consider the time spent in Australia compared to time overseas, as well as the skills and experiences people gain while abroad and how they'll benefit Australia when they return.

    Different types of visas have different purposes. For example, business visas don't always require the holder to live in Australia, while family visas focus on keeping families together. Skill stream visas are for people with skills needed in Australia, and they should demonstrate their intention to live in Australia soon.

    It can be harder to show strong ties to Australia after being away for a long time. To assess an applicant's ties, officers should look at their business, cultural, employment, or personal connections to Australia and decide if they are significant and beneficial to the country. They should consider all relevant ties to determine if the applicant's connections are helpful to Australia.
  • To obtain a 1 year RRV based upon  substantial business ties to Australia, a person needs to own and manage a business that is connected to Australia. The business should be commercial, aim to make a profit, and have proper record-keeping and management.

    When deciding if a business tie is significant, officers will consider nine factors, such as:
    1. Creating jobs for Australians
    2. Generating revenue in or for Australia
    3. The size of the business
    4. Strengthening links with other countries
    5. Producing goods or services in Australia
    6. Active trading at the time of application
    7. Recent tax assessments in Australia
    8. Exporting Australian knowledge or technology
    9. Introducing new technology to Australia

    If an applicant owns shares in a family business in Australia, the shares must be enough to generate a significant income or be vital for the business's operation.

    A professional investor who actively manages investments in Australia may also meet the business tie requirement.
  • To obtain a 1 year RRV based upon cultural ties, an applicant should be involved in any of a range of intellectual, artistic, sporting or religious pursuits which are not strictly of a business or employment nature.

    A substantial cultural tie of benefit to Australia may exist if the applicant's cultural pursuits are conducted at a professional level or with a degree of public recognition.

    Four examples of persons who may have substantial cultural ties are:
    1. A person who is accepted as a member of a cultural community within Australia who is actively involved in traditional activities.
    2. A person involved in the Arts at a professional level.
    3. Members of religious communities in Australia.
    4. Sports persons or professional support staff who are members of Australian sporting associations.

    As a general observation it is likely that the reasons claimed as cultural ties would be consistent with the basis for the grant of their original permanent visa.
  • To obtain a 1 year RRV based upon an employment tie we consider the job type (permanent, temporary, or contract) and if the person receives a wage or salary. Casual work usually isn't considered substantial unless the person has lived in Australia for a significant time in the past 2 years.

    An employment tie may benefit Australia if the person is:

    1. Currently employed in Australia
    2. Has accepted a job offer that matches their qualifications and experience, and will start work soon

    Additional factors to consider include:

    1. Tenancy agreements or home ownership documents
    2. Children enrolled in school
    3. Repeated claims of job offers without actual employment
    4. Reasons for needing to travel

    Employment outside Australia may have ties to Australia if the person works for:

    1. An Australian organization (e.g., a company, university, college, religious organization)
    2. A government organization
    3. The Australian office of an international charity
    4. An international organization as an Australian representative
  • To obtain a 1 year RRV based upon personal ties we consider the applicant's participation in the community and economy, and their connections with Australian residents and citizens. Maintaining a family unit can be considered beneficial, particularly if the family plans to live in Australia.

    Examples of substantial personal ties include:

    1. A long history of living in Australia, especially during formative years or a significant portion of time since first granted a permanent visa.
    2. Living abroad with an Australian citizen partner or parent who has previously lived in Australia.
    3. Living in Australia for more than 12 months in the last 5 years, including as a temporary resident.
    4. Having Australian citizen minor children living in Australia, with no legal barriers to access.
    5. Living overseas with a family unit, including Australian citizen minor children, and showing evidence of imminent plans to return to Australia to live.
    6. Owning personal assets in Australia, such as a family home or investment property, particularly if occupied by a close family member or actively rented.
    7. Having close family members who are permanent residents or citizens with substantial residence in Australia.

    When evaluating personal ties, we consider the person's history and intention to reside in Australia, whether they view Australia as home, and their plans for permanent residence. RRV criteria do not require stronger ties to Australia than other countries but only substantial ties benefiting Australia.

    For minors claiming substantial personal ties, provide evidence that parents or legal guardians support the application.

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