Resident Return Visas – Information you need to know

Although Australian permanent residents have the right to remain in Australian indefinitely, they do not have an automatic right to re-enter Australia if they travel overseas. Permanent residents need to ensure that they are able to return on their current visa before they depart Australia.

Generally, permanent residents have the right to travel outside of Australia and return for up to five years from when their permanent resident visa was granted. If their visa does not contain this provision or it was granted more than five years ago, they will need to hold a Resident Return visa before they can return to Australia.

Subclass 155 visa – Five or One Year Resident Return visa

The Resident Return visa allows Australian permanent residents to maintain or regain their status as an Australian permanent resident. This visa will allow permanent residents to leave and reenter Australia as multiple times during its validity. It will not impact their permanent resident status.


  • An Australian permanent resident;
  • A former Australian citizen who has lost or renounced their Australian citizenship; or
  • A former Australian permanent resident whose most recent permanent visa was not cancelled.

There are both five year and one year travel provisions available under a 155 visa.

Five year travel provision: To obtain a resident return visa valid for five years, the applicant must have been physically present in Australia for a total of at least two years in the last five years and throughout those two years they were a permanent resident or an Australian citizen.

One year travel provision: If the applicant does not meet the conditions for a five year travel provision but they can prove that they have substantial business, cultural, employment or personal ties which are of benefit to Australia and has not been absent from Australia for more than five continuous years then they may be eligible for a 155 visa with a one year travel provision.

Different criteria must be met if you are applying from inside our outside Australia.

Subclass 157 visa – Three Month Resident Return visa

This visa subclass is intended for permanent residents or former citizens who do not meet the requirements for a subclass 155 visa. This means that they have been in Australia for less than two years and have not yet established substantial ties beneficial to Australia. This visa option may also be suitable for people who have held a permanent visa or Australian citizenship in the last five years but last left Australia as temporary visa holders.

You must:

  • have spent at least one day in the last five years lawfully in Australia
  • have spent less than two years in the last five years in Australia
  • have been a permanent resident or an Australian citizen for the entire period spent in Australia
  • provide evidence that there is a compelling and compassionate reason for your departure.

If you have been outside Australia for more than three continuous months immediately before making the application, you must also show that there is a compelling and compassionate reason for the absence.

This application can be made while inside or outside of Australia. If the application was made while outside of Australia, the applicant must be outside of Australia when the visa is granted.

This visa allows for unlimited entry during the three months in which the visa is valid for.

Subclass 159 – Provisional Resident Return visa

If you are outside of Australia and have Australian permanent residency or are a former citizen but you are unable to prove this claim and have compelling or urgent circumstancing that require you to travel to Australia, you might be eligible for a subclass 159 visa. This visa only allows for a return journey to Australia. It does not authorize further travel into Australia. It can only be applied for and granted outside Australia.

You must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be an Australian permanent resident; or
  • An Australian citizen who was usually resident in Australia; and
  • You must have urgent and compelling reasons for travelling to Australia before proving your claim of permanent residency or citizenship; and
  • Entry of the applicant to Australia before the claim is proved will not prejudice the interests of Australia; and
  • There are reasonable grounds for believing that the claim can be proved.

If you are granted a subclass 159 visa, you will be required to apply for a permanent visa in Australia on your return. This can either be an 808 Confirmatory (Residence) visa, or a subclass 155 or a subclass 157 visa. Failure to do this will result in you being an unlawful non-citizen and you could therefore be deported.

Do you need migration assistance?

If you think you might need a Resident Return visa and need help understanding your options and/or making your application, please contact our Migration Team.

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