Subclass 155 / 157: Resident Return Visa

When a permanent visa is granted, there is a travel right attached to the permanent residency, which entitles the Australian permanent resident to travel to and from Australia for a certain period. After expiry of this facility, you will not be able to return to Australia as a permanent resident. If you wish to return to Australia as a permanent resident, you must apply for and be granted a Resident Return visa before arranging travel to Australia. This is an Australian permanent resident visa intended to permit renewal of your right of return.

If you are in Australia at the time when the travel right expires, you do not need to apply for this visa unless you wish to travel outside of Australia. This visa may also be appropriate for a former Australian permanent resident or former Australian citizen. Only Australian permanent residents, a former Australian citizen or a former Australian permanent resident may apply for a resident return visa. Note that a former permanent resident will not qualify where their last permanent visa had been cancelled.

To avoid potential complexities surrounding the need for an RRV visa, it may be best to consider becoming an Australian Citizen. To obtain information on your eligibility for citizenship, it is advisable to consult with a migration solicitor. Citizenship can offer a whole host of benefits, including unlimited travel rights and expanded access to social security and education subsidies.

Information on Secondary Applicants

The criteria applicable to secondary applicants are identical to those applicable to primary applicants. Further, the application fee is not reduced for secondary applicants. Generally speaking, where a primary applicant satisfies criteria for grant, all members of his or her family unit will also be eligible in the basis of their familial relationship. Whilst it is not necessary for all members of a family unit to lodge a combined application, where a family does submit separate applications, the head of the family unit will, under policy, find that his or her application is processed first.

Transitional Arrangements

A small number of Australian permanent residents who were granted permanent visas prior to the 1960’s may have permanent travel facilities attached to their visas. As this is extremely rare, it is vital that you ensure you have a valid right to return to Australia after your overseas travel. If you or your family member are unsure about the nature of your permanent resident visa or right of return, speak with a migration lawyer prior to travelling outside Australia.

Other long-time Australian residents may have received some form of permanent residency through transitional provisions relating to significant reforms in Australian migration law. If you are in any way uncertain as to your migration status, migrated without having held a passport in your name or have struggled to confirm what kind of visa you hold, it is extremely important to consult with a migration solicitor prior to departing Australia. Failure to do so will be highly prejudicial to efforts made to normalise your migration status though an absorbed person visa or similar arrangements.

Relevant Circumstances for Validity Period

Depending on the circumstances, travel validity may vary from 3 months up to 5 years. After this period of validity, you will need another Resident Return visa (subclasses 155 and 157) to re-enter Australia as a permanent resident. Alternatively, you may consider your eligibility for Australian Citizenship so you can travel on an Australian passport.

If you return to Australia without a permanent visa and a valid travel facility, this may potentially impact your:

  • Entitlements as a permanent resident; or
  • Ability to satisfy the permanent residence requirements when applying for Australian citizenship or another Resident Return visa.

Remedying visa irregularities after your departure is fare more difficult than doing so whilst inside Australia. If any complication presents itself, it is advisable to address it prior to leaving Australia.

5 years validity if the physical residence criterion is satisfied

If you have lived in Australia for 2 years, that is 730 days, in the last 5 years as a permanent resident, citizen or former permanent resident, you satisfy what is known as the “residence requirement” and may be granted a 5 year travel facility on your Australian resident return visa. The period during which you have resided in Australia on any temporary or bridging visa does not usually count for the purposes of the residence requirement.

In the event where the applicant fails to satisfy the physical residence criterion by reason of having spent insufficient time physically present in Australia in the past 5 years, the Minister is conferred discretion and flexibility to afford waiver on the ground that the applicant has substantial ties to Australia or provides benefits to Australia. The information required to apply for a resident return visa under this discretion is complex and best achieved with the assistance of a migration solicitor.

Maximum 1 year validity if the physical residence criterion is not satisfied but substantial ties are proven

In the event of failure to satisfy the criterion, a travel facility may only be granted up to 1 year at most. The assessment would be conducted in a holistic manner, but it should be noted that it becomes increasingly difficult to demonstrate substantial ties or benefit over extended periods of absence, particularly for former permanent residents where significant time has elapsed since their last permanent visa. Put simply, the longer the period of absence the more difficult it is to continue to maintain ties of sufficient importance to be considered ‘substantial’. As none of the terms in the relevant provisions are defined in migration law, their ordinary meanings, and policy guidance as to their meanings, apply. Delegates of the Minister are directed under policy to consider information regarding the following:

  • whether the applicant has business, cultural, employment or personal ties to Australia;
  • whether the ties are substantial – that is, whether the ties are considerable and have real worth or value (this part of the criterion is about the quantity and value as they relate to the applicant and can be personal or financial); and
  • whether there are ties of benefit to Australia, – this part of the criterion requires that there is a demonstrable benefit to Australia arising from the substantial tie(s).
  • Further guidance is provided in the Department’s Procedural Instructions with respect to the substantial cultural ties in the following terms:
  • The applicant involved in any one of a range of intellectual, artistic, sporting or religious pursuits, which are not strictly of a business or employment nature, may be considered to have a cultural tie with Australia. 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.The Procedural Instructions also provided helpful explanation with respect to personal ties with Australia that are of benefit to Australia in the following terms:
  • The applicant is, or has been, a participating member of the Australian community and economy, and that their ties enrich the lives of individual Australian residents and citizens. Enabling a family unit to remain together can be considered of benefit to Australia particularly if there is evidence of an imminent intention for the family unit to domicile as a whole in Australia. Merely having a family member in Australia is not sufficient.
  • More specifically, the assessor may additionally consider:
  • Continual absence from Australia for the last 5 years;
  • Time spent in Australia in comparison with time spent outside Australia since commencement of permanent residence;
  • Experience, skills and international contacts and reputation that have been developed whilst outside Australia and which may be brought back to benefit Australia.

When applying for the Subclass 157, even though it is unnecessary to satisfy the “residency requirement,” visa applicant, if applying from outside Australia, must not have been absent from Australia for a continuous period of more than 3 months immediately before making the application for the visa, unless the Minister is satisfied that there are compelling and compassionate reasons for the absence.

Cancellation of Permanent Residency

If you have had your permanent residency visa cancelled or have received notice that the Department intends to cancel, you will not be able to apply for a Resident Return visa. It is not possible to use a Resident Return visa in order to try and avoid cancellation of your permanent residency. If you have had a permanent residency visa cancelled, it is best to first consider your right of review, either to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or, if the Tribunal has heard your case already, to the Federal Circuit Court of Australia. Alternatively, you may look at other options for pursuing a new permanent visa. Note that if your visa was cancelled but where said cancellation has been set aside on appeal, you will be able to apply for this visa just like all other permanent residents.

Relevant Public Interest Criteria:

The only public interest criterion applicable to the Subclass 155 visa or 157 visa is public interest criterion 4021. This criterion merely requires applicants to hold a valid passport. In rare circumstances, the need for a visa applicant to hold a valid passport may be dispensed with if it is unreasonable to require such a thing. If you or a family member requires that a visa be issued despite a lack of passport, it is imperative to obtain legal advice pursuant to such a matter.

Relevant Special Return Criteria:


Visa Conditions

There are no conditions for this visa subclass. The resident return visa is a permanent visa allowing one to enter Australia to live, study and work for an indefinite period. It is, however, important to note that as with one’s previous permanent residency visa, the RRV does not confer an indefinite travel facility. As a result, those looking to engage in travel in the distant future may need to reapply for a new RRV to renew their travel facility again. Only citizenship will provide a permanent right of reentry into Australia.

Application Charges

The application charge for the resident return visa is $405

There is no separate application charge for secondary applicants.

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