Resident Return Visas – Here Is What You Need To Know

Only Australian citizens have an automatic right of entry to Australia. This means all non-citizens require a visa to gain lawful entry and status. The Resident Return (subclass 155 and 157) visa is a permanent visa for current or former Australian permanent residents. This visa will allow you to maintain or regain your status as an Australian permanent resident on your return to Australia. If the travel period of your permanent visa has expired or is about to expire, this visa might be an option for you.

What would this visa let me do?

On this visa you will be able to stay in Australia indefinitely as an Australian permanent resident. It is a permanent visa with a travel facility that lets you travel to and from Australia for up to five years from the date it is granted. Once the travel facility expires, if you want to continue travelling to and from Australia as a permanent resident you will need to obtain another Resident Return visa.

What are the eligibility requirements?

To be granted a visa for five years, you must have lived in Australia as a permanent resident for at least two of the last five years.
Alternatively, if you do not meet this residence requirement but you can demonstrate substantial business, cultural, employment or personal ties which are of benefit to Australia, you may be eligible to be granted the visa for one year.
If you do not meet the requirements of the subclass 155 visa you will be assessed for the subclass 157 visa which can be granted for three months. To be eligible for the subclass 157 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.

What if I am a New Zealand citizen who arrived before 1 September 1994?

Before this date, if you arrived in Australia you were automatically granted permanent residency rights. After this date however all New Zealand citizens now enter Australia on a temporary subclass 444 special category visa.

The Department’s policy position is that a former Australian permanent resident can include any person who was considered a permanent resident under migration arrangements in place at that time. This means that people who entered Australia as New Zealand citizens before 1 September 1994 may be considered a former permanent resident.

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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