Australian Resident Return Visas
Updated on Nov 08, 2022 • 6 min read • 417 views • Copy Link
Australian Resident Return Visas
The Resident Return Visa (subclass 155 and 157) is for current or former Australian Permanent Residents and former Australian citizens who wish to travel overseas after their travel facility has expired or who wish to return to Australia as a Permanent Resident.
Every Permanent Residency visa has a travel facility valid for five years which allows Permanent Residents to travel to and from Australia freely. Once this travel facility expires or if it is about to expire, you must obtain a ‘return visa’ to allow you to re-enter Australia.
Former Permanent Residents whose last Permanent Residency visa was cancelled are not eligible to apply for a Resident Return Visa.
Who can apply for a resident return visa?
You can apply for a resident return visa if you fall into one of the following circumstances:
- You have resided in Australia as a Permanent Resident;
- You were previously an Australian Permanent Resident but no longer reside in Australia; or
- You have renounced, given up, or lost your Australian citizenship in certain circumstances.
If you can provide evidence that you have substantial cultural, employment, business, or personal ties with Australia, you are eligible to apply.
Non-citizens who are residing in Australia as Permanent Residents can be granted the maximum travel facility of five years. This is provided if the person has resided in Australia for at least two years in the last five years as a Permanent Resident.
A person may be granted this visa with a travel facility of up to 12 months if they have substantial business, cultural employment or personal ties to Australia and:
- Were a permanent resident or citizen when they left Australia and had compelling reasons for being absent for five years or more;
- Were a permanent resident or citizen in the last ten years and can show compelling reasons for their absence/s for over five years.
Applicants who do not meet the above residence requirement will be granted a travel facility for up to three months only (subclass 157)
If a person has resided in Australia as a permanent resident for at least one day but less than two years in the five years before making the application, they may be granted a Resident Return Visa. However, they will be required to provide evidence that there are compelling and compassionate reasons for not having resided in Australia for at least two years.
You can find out if you meet the residence requirements by obtaining an international movement record.
Can family members apply for a resident return visa?
A family member of an applicant can also make an application for Resident Return Visa but they must make a separate application. This means they need to satisfy the primary criteria and they cannot be added as a secondary applicant.
A person can only make a combined application with another person if they are included on the passport of another applicant.
What if I have been absent for over five years?
If you have been absent for more than five years, you may still be eligible to apply for a Resident Return Visa provided you can prove that you have substantial ties with Australia. You must also demonstrate that there was a compelling and compassionate reason for your absence in Australia. You do not need to demonstrate compelling and compassionate reasons for being absent the entire time. Instead, you can be granted a Resident Return Visa on the basis that you have been absent because of one or more particular events that are compelling and compassionate.
For example, a visa applicant’s mother had become ill and therefore the visa applicant had been absent for a substantial period of time. The visa applicant’s mother is well again but during the visa applicant’s absence, they had met their spouse, married and had children. Now, because of close ties to Australia and because their absence was initially because of a compassionate and compelling reason, they may be eligible for grant of a Resident Return Visa.
Where and how to apply
This visa can be lodged either in or outside Australia. You can lodge it online if you already hold a Resident Return Visa, or you may lodge a paper application form if you cannot complete the online form or if circumstances exist that prevent you lodging online.
If you lodged outside of Australia, you are required to be outside Australia when the Department of Home Affairs decides your application.
If you lodged inside Australia, you can be inside or outside Australia when the decision is made.
Do I Have to Pass the Health And Character Test?
Applicants for Australian Resident Return Visas do not have to pass a health test.
Under section 501 of the Migration Act 1958, they do need to pass a Character Test. Section 501 also gives the Immigration Minister power to refuse or cancel a Resident Return Visa on character grounds.
What is the Processing Time?
The standard processing time for a decision on a visa subclass 155 is one to three working days, though some applications may take longer.
The processing time for a decision on a visa subclass 157 is three to four months.
It is recommended you lodge your application at least three months before you intend to travel to avoid delay in case of unforeseen difficulties in processing the application.
My application was refused. Are there review rights?
If you applied while you are in Australia and the visa application was refused, you have the right to have the decision reviewed by Migrant and Refugee Division of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
If you applied outside Australia, you do not generally have a right of appeal unless you have a parent, spouse, brother, sister or child who is an Australian citizen or permanent resident who can appeal on your behalf. In that case, your relative can apply to the Tribunal for review of the visa refusal.
Thereare strict time limits for appealing visa refusals to the Tribunal. If you wish to seek review of a negative decision, seek legal advice immediately.
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