Subclass 155 / 157: Resident Return Visa


When a permanent visa is granted, the travel right is attached to the permanent residency, which entitles the holder 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. 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.

A small number of people 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.

Valid applications for resident return visas can only be made by:

  • Permanent residents;
  • Former citizens; or
  • Former permanent residents.

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 an 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.

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, former citizen or former permanent resident, you satisfy what is known as the “residence requirement” and may be granted a 5 year travel validity on your 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.

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. This is in part because 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 should consider:

  • 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.
    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 overseas since commencement of permanent residence;
  • Experience, skills and international contacts and reputation that have been developed whilst overseas and which may be brought back to benefit Australia.

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. However, if your visa was cancelled but it has been set aside on appeal, you will be able to apply for this visa.

Relevant Public Interest Criteria:

4021

Relevant Special Return Criteria:

5001

Visa Conditions

There are no conditions for this visa subclass.

Application Charges

$405