Renewing Permanent Residency – 155 & 157 Resident Return Visas

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Is your Australian permanent residency visa about to expire? Or has it expired already? Do you need to apply for a visa in order to travel overseas and return to Australia? You may be able to apply for a Subclass 155 Resident Return visa (link to online 155 visa application form).

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International travel with permanent residency visas

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Generally speaking, once you are granted an Australian permanent residency visa, this visa will allow you to travel in and out of Australia for a period of 5 years from the date of grant. This is referred to as your ‘international travel facility’. This does not mean that you are only allowed to lawfully remain in Australia for 5 years. As a permanent resident, you are allowed to lawfully remain in Australia indefinitely As a permanent resident, you are allowed to lawfully remain in Australia indefinitely as a permanent resident as long as you arrive in Australia before your current permanent residency visa expires.

However, the travel facility on your permanent residency visa does expire after 5 years from when you are granted permanent residency. If you want to travel overseas after your travel facility has expired, then you will need obtain a Subclass 155 Resident Return Visa (“RRV”) (assuming that you have not obtained Australian citizenship in the meantime).

Depending on your situation, if you are granted a RRV, it will either be valid for 5 years or 1 year (although there is also a Subclass 157 Resident Return Visa which is valid for 3 months – see explanation below).

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Main eligibility requirements for 155 visa

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The key eligibility requirements for the Subclass 155 and 157 Resident Return visas are outlined below:

  • 155 visa which is valid for 5 years – in the last 5 years that precedes the lodgement of your RRV application, you have been in Australia as a permanent resident for at least 2 years out of the 5. You must satisfy this requirement to obtain a 155 RRV that is valid for 5 years
  • 155 visa which is valid for 1 year – you have been in Australia for at least 1 day in the last 5 years as the holder of a permanent residency visa and you have substantial, business, cultural, employment and/or personal ties to Australia which are of benefit to Australia (explained below)
  • 155 visa which is valid for 1 year – since the grant of your permanent residency visa, you have been absent from Australia for a period of 5 years of more, there are compelling reasons for your absence (explained below) and you have substantial, business, cultural, employment and/or personal ties to Australia which are of benefit to Australia
  • 157 visa which is valid for 3 months – you have been in Australia for at least 1 day in the last 5 years as the holder of a permanent residency visa and ‘compelling and compassionate reasons’ that caused your last departure from Australia OR if you are in Australia and need to travel, you can show a compelling and compassionate reason for having to leave Australia

 

Mandatory requirement for all Resident Return visa applicants

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In order to apply for a RRV, you must be either:

  1. An Australian permanent resident (i.e. hold a permanent residency visa)
  2. A former Australian citizen who has lost or renounced Australian citizenship
  3. A former Australian permanent resident, other than a former Australian permanent resident whose most recent permanent visa was cancelled

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Resident Return visa – valid for 5 years

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You must satisfy this requirement to obtain a Subclass 155 Resident Return visa that is valid for 5 years – in the last 5 years that precedes the lodgement of your RRV application, you have been in Australia as a permanent resident for at least 2 years out of the 5.

Two years is defined as 730 days in total. You do not have to complete two consecutive years of residence in Australia. You can accumulate the required two years over the 5 year period that precedes the lodgement of your application.

You can only count the time that you have spent in Australia as a permanent resident or Australian citizen (i.e. you cannot count any time that you held a temporary visa or a bridging visa towards the 2 years). You can count both your date of arrival and departure from Australia, assuming that these dates are different days.

You must satisfy the above requirement in order to obtain a Subclass 155 Resident Return visa that is valid for 5 years. There are no exemptions that will get you around satisfying this requirement. You may be able to obtain a RRV with 1 year of international travel facility if you cannot satisfy this requirement.

Perhaps it is easier to explain this requirement with an example: the international travel facility of your current permanent residency visa is about to expire on 30 January 2014. You decide to be safe and apply for an RRV on 1 January 2014. The relevant five year period that precedes the lodgement of the application is from 1 January 2009 to 1 January 2014. During that period, have you spent at least 730 days in Australia as the holder of a permanent residency visa? If so, then you can apply for an RRV with 5 years of international travel facility.

If you do satisfy this requirement, then you can apply for your RRV online. You can lodge your application while you are inside of Australia, or outside of Australia. The process should be pretty straight forward, and the Department should be able to grant the visa within days or weeks of lodgement.

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Resident Return visa – valid for 1 year

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If you have been in Australia for less than 2 years in the 5 year period that precedes the lodgement of your application, then you may be able to obtain a RRV with 1 year of international travel facility if you meet the below eligibility requirements:

  1. You have been physically present in Australia, however you have been in Australia for less than 2 years during the 5 year period that precedes the lodgement of your application
  2. You have not been absent from Australia for a continuous period of 5 years or more since the grant of your permanent residency visa
  3. You currently hold an Australian permanent residency visa or last departed Australia as an Australian permanent resident or last departed Australia as an Australian citizen, but has subsequently lost or renounced Australian citizenship OR You were an Australian citizen, or an Australian permanent resident, less than 10 years before the application, and you have not been absent from Australia for a period of, or periods that total, more than 5 years in the period from the date that you last departed Australia as an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident to the date of the application, unless there are compelling reasons for the absence.
  4. You have substantial, business, cultural, employment and/or personal ties to Australia which are of benefit to Australia

If you need to show substantial ties to Australia, then you need to submit evidence to demonstrate this.

If you do not meet the second requirement because you have been absent from Australia for a continuous period of 5 years or more since the grant of your permanent residency visa, then you will need to demonstrate ‘compelling reasons’ for your absence (further explanation below).

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Substantial ties requirement

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You can show substantial ties by having business, cultural, employment and/or personal ties.

The Department’s policy does recognise that the longer that you have been away from Australia, the more difficult it may be for you to establish ‘substantial ties’.

Extract from the Department’s policy: In general, it becomes increasingly difficult to demonstrate substantial ties of 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 import to be considered ‘substantial’.

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Employment ties

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If you have an employment opportunity in Australia, then you may be able to establish ‘substantial ties’ on this basis. The nature of the work is a relevant consideration (i.e. is it permanent, temporary or contract? Is it full-time, part-time or casual?). Policy states that ‘casual work would not normally be considered to be a substantial tie unless the applicant had been living in Australia for a significant period in the last 2 years’.

The Department can consider the following in assessing whether your employment ties is of benefit to Australia:

  1. Whether the role aligns with your qualifications and experience
  2. Whether the role is due to commence immediately
  3. Whether you can demonstrate an intention to stay in Australia for the long term by providing evidence such as a lease agreement, or enrolling your children in school

The Department will also need to consider the ‘genuineness’ of your claim of employment ties (to stop people from forming fraudulent employment ties in order to apply for a RRV).

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Personal ties

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The Department’s policy in relation to substantial personal ties: Substantial personal ties may be of benefit to Australia in the sense that 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.

Policy also states that allowing you to live with your family can be considered to be of benefit to Australia if there is evidence that you and your family have imminent plans to live in Australia permanently. The following examples are given:

  1. If your partner is an Australian citizen and you’re living with your partner outside of Australia. Policy states that this situation ‘should be given considerable weight’
  2. If you’re living overseas with your family and your family includes children (or a child) who are under 18 and are Australian citizens, and you provide evidence to show that you have immediate plans to return to Australia. Policy states that ‘this tie should be given considerable weight’
  3. If you are an Australian citizen and your child is an Australian permanent resident and you need to apply for a RRV for your child. If your child is living outside of Australia with you, policy states this situation ‘should be given considerable weight’ in establishing substantial ties for your child’s RRV application

Other basis for personal ties that are mentioned in The Department’s policy include:

  1. If you have a history of long term residence in Australia prior to the last 5 years, particularly if you have spent your formative years in Australia or has spent a significant amount of time in Australia since first being granted a permanent visa. The longer that you’ve been in Australia since you were granted permanent residency, the more weight is placed on this factor
  2. Personal assets in Australia such as a family home or single investment property. However, whether this personal tie is of benefit to Australia is dependent on whether it is occupied, for example, by a close family member or actively being rented
  3. Having close family members who are Australian citizens or permanent residents and these family members have substantial residence in Australia (I assume that The Department’s policy means that your family members have been living in Australia for a substantial period of time)

With personal ties, if you can show an intention to make Australia your home and you intend to reside here permanently, then you should include evidence that demonstrates this.

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Business ties

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Under The Department’s policy, the applicant needs to ‘to have substantial ownership interests in a business and be involved in the management of the business, however they do not need to have physical residence in Australia. This business should be an Australian business or a branch of a business which has connections with Australia’.

When The Department assesses whether your business ties are of benefit to Australia, your case officer can consider the following (and of course, you’ll need to provide supporting evidence):

  • Your business has led to the creation of employment opportunities in Australia, or for Australian citizens or permanent residents outside of Australia
  • Whether your business generates revenue in or for Australia
  • Size of the business
  • Whether your business enhances links with other countries
  • Whether your business has resulted in the transfer of Australian knowledge and/or technologies offshore and/or evidence of introducing new technologies into Australia.

The above list of considerations is not an exhaustive list. If you have business ties to Australia (i.e. you have substantial ownership interests in a business), then you should have a think about the benefits and relationships that your business is delivering to Australia and Australians, and whether you can evidence these benefits and relationships.

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Cultural ties

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Below is The Department’s policy extract in relation to what constitutes cultural ties:

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. Some examples of persons who may have substantial cultural ties include, but are not limited to:

  • A person who is accepted as a member of a cultural community within Australia who is actively involved in traditional activities
  • A person involved in the Arts at a professional level
  • Members of religious communities in Australia or
  • Sports persons or professional support staff who are members of Australian sporting associations.

Evidence to support a claim of cultural ties of benefit to Australia may include:

  • Publications
  • Contracts
  • Evidence of membership of cultural associations
  • Newspaper articles
  • Programs from concerts, etc.

As a general observation it is likely that the reasons claimed as cultural ties would be consistent with the basis for the grant of their original permanent visa.

We are sorry but if you leave a comment listing all our connections and ask whether your connections are sufficient, we will not be able to provide you with an answer. We cannot provide you with definite advice as unless we have completed an assessment. We need to have a thorough understanding of all your connections with Australia before we can provide you with definite and useful advice.

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Compelling reasons for absence from Australia

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If you have been absent from Australia for a continuous period of 5 years or more since the grant of your permanent residency visa, then you will need to demonstrate ‘compelling reasons’ for your absence.

The Department’s policy guidelines do provide examples in relation to what may constitute ‘compelling reasons’. Examples include severe illness or death of an overseas family member or been caught up in a natural disaster, political uprising or other similar event. It is not always easy to demonstrate compelling reasons. And generally speaking, ‘every day’ reason for not being in Australia such as work or study commitments are not considered to be ‘compelling’.

Satisfying your case officer that there are ‘compelling reasons’ for your absence can be difficult, and whether your case officer accepts your reasons is discretionary. So if you want to retain the right to travel in and out of Australia as a permanent resident, then we would strongly suggest that you try and avoid this situation where you are absent from Australia for a continuous period of 5 years or more since the grant of your permanent residency visa.

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Subclass 157 – 3 month Resident Return visa

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If you cannot obtain a 155 visa, you may be able to apply for the Subclass 157 Resident Return visa. Specifically, if you do not have any substantial ties with Australia, you may still be able to apply for the 157 visa because you do not need to demonstrate substantial ties with Australia for this visa.

If you are granted this visa, then it is valid for a period of 3 months. This is a permanent residency visa, and you will be allowed to remain in Australia indefinitely if you return to Australia as the holder of this visa.

In order to obtain this visa, you need to demonstrate that:

  1. In the 5 year period that precedes the lodgement of the application, you have been lawfully present in Australia for at least 1 day as an Australian permanent resident or citizen (you cannot rely on time spent in Australia under a temporary or bridging visa in order to satisfy this requirement)
  2. There are ‘compelling and compassionate reasons’ that caused your last departure from Australia OR if you are in Australia and need to travel, you can show a compelling and compassionate reason for having to leave Australia

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How we can help

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Please Contact Us if you require our assistance.

Our Client Testimonials reflect:

  • the excellence of our work
  • our willingness take on the difficult cases and achieve the outcomes that our clients want
  • our willingness to cater our services to the precise needs of our clients, including working outside of normal business hours and providing limited assistance where needed such as  helping to resolve a specific issue or issues with a particular application
  • our ability to assist business and private clients from all over Australia and the world! We are based in Sydney NSW, however, we have assisted business and private clients from all over Australia and the world. We have never had issues with assisting clients that we don’t get to meet in person

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Frequently asked questions

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  1. Q: Can I apply for the RRV even though my permanent residency visa has expired?
    A: As explained above, you can still meet the eligibility requirements for a RRV even if your permanent residency visa has expired
  2. Q: Do I need to be in Australia at the time of lodgement?
    A: Generally speaking, no
  3. Q: Should I apply for a RRV before my current permanent residency visa expires?
    A: You can if you want. If it is granted, then the new RRV will replace whatever substantive visa that you were holding
  4. Q: Is there any limit on the number of RRV that I can be granted?
    A: No
  5. Q: If my application is refused, can I apply again?
    A: Yes, but the result may be the same unless you change your application in some way
  6. Q: If I outline my reasons for being away from Australia, can you confirm whether these will be sufficient for ‘compelling reasons for absence’?
    A: See above response

 

* Subject to completion of assessment, and confirmation that we can assist with the application.

489 thoughts on “Renewing Permanent Residency – 155 & 157 Resident Return Visas

  1. Song

    Dear Peng

    I am in the exact situation as Helly, just wondering will the case officer be aware that I need to travel overseas in a few days? because at them moment I still haven’t receive any replies from case officer yet and I am worried if my visa can be come back in time.

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Song,
      I don’t think that your case officer would be aware, unless you informed the Department as part of your visa application with your supporting documents (i.e. flight ticket).
      PC

      Reply
  2. Helly

    Dear Peng,
    Following on my earlier question and reading the circumstances of others above, pending our RRV approval, if were outside the country and needed to come into Australia urgently, how could we do this?. Taking the example of my husband who is now overseas and will not be able to come because his PR visa is about to expire in a few days and the RRV is still pending. Does he apply a tourist visa? Will it cancel out our PR and RRV application? This is very troubling. KInd regards , Helly

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      For the 155 visa, if the applicant is outside of Australia at the time of application, then they need to be outside of Australia at the time of decision.
      He can come on a visitor visa but the Department can’t approve his current 155 visa application if he is in Australia – he may need to lodge a new application after he arrives.
      PC

      Reply
  3. VS

    Hello Peng- i was the main applicant for SN 190 visa expiring in July 2020. Based on this my family also was given PR.
    Now iam not able to move to Australia but want to relocate my family and kids.

    Question- After spending more than 2 years in Australia can my wife apply for RRV even if iam not eligible as a main applicant?

    Regards
    VS

    Reply
  4. Dewi

    Dear Peng,
    I have the same case with others about RRV processing time. I had applied RRV since 17 th July 2017 and until now I still don’t have any reply from about my renewal RRV.
    I have read your information that the process are slow regarding of changes on July.
    I just wondering how long it will take times that i should wait because i have to go on Sept 2017 for start the new job in Sydney (I am now outside from Australia). And also i want to ask if i do want to know that my visas proceed, could you let me know where i should ask regarding my RRV so I can follow up my Visa.
    I thank you for your kind assistance and best regards

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Dewi,
      Department’s processing time is very slow due to staff cut-backs – processing time can be around 1-3 weeks.
      You can contact the Department to follow-up if you wish – 131 881 if calling from Australia.
      PC

      Reply
  5. Harry

    Hi Peng
    Can i apply for RRV 1 year (If 2 yr condition not fulfilled) if i own a house in Australia?
    If my PR(5Yr) lapse, Within how many months can we apply for RRV?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Sorry but I can’t provide advice just based on your comment information.
      Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your visa options.
      PC

      Reply
  6. Claire

    Hi peng

    They received my application last August 3 but until now I don’t receive any confirmation from Immigration but when i renew my son PR last May he grant visa just for 2 days after they received the application do i need to contact the immigration?
    Cheers, claire

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Claire,
      Department’s processing time is very slow due to staff cut-backs – processing time can be around 1-3 weeks.
      You can contact the Department to follow-up if you wish.
      PC

      Reply
  7. Sisilia

    Hi Peng,

    I want to apply for my Dad RRV visa he is been holding this for quite sometime now but he have to renew every year, if he is not here yet can you submit the application? Do the immigration people will process it ?
    I heard its take quite a long time this time with the processing time.
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Sisilia,
      Yes your father can lodge a 155 visa even if he is outside of Australia – please see above post for requirements.
      PC

      Reply
  8. Amir

    Hi,
    My PR (175) visa was expired on Oct 2015 and I applied for RRV the next month, but the application was refused. Now it is more than 5 years since I leave Australia. If I am a permanent resident yet? If it is possible to apply RRV again? If not, should I apply for any type of the PR visa (189 or 190) again?
    My wife is going to apply for visa subclass 189 and I’ll be included in her case as her partner (She has never held an Australian visa). How my previous visa will effect on her application?
    Thank you for your consideration.

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      ​Hi Amir,​​
      Please see above post for RRV requirements.
      You can apply for general skilled migration if you can’t satisfy the requirements for the RRV.
      ​​Please see Contact Us page and in relation to our Consultation Service – feel free to contact us if you need advice in relation to your visa options.
      PC

      Reply
  9. Dan

    Hi Peng,

    I got my PR (Class 175) in Nov 2010 and have been in Australia since Jan 2015 (2.5 years). My 5 years has expired now.
    if I am applying for RRV, should it be 155 or 157 ?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Dan,
      You can apply for the 155 visa – in any case, both the 155 and 157 visa have the same online form.
      PC

      Reply
  10. Shareef

    Hi Peng,

    I am Australian Citizen and my wife she is a permanent residence. So my question is my wife visa expires on early next year and she is about to fly overseas in next few day and she will be back to Australia before her visa expires. Whats the next visa I have to apply for her or is there any visa renewal process for permanent residency visa? Her visa subclass is EN186. Your quick response is appreciable. Thanks

    Regards,
    Shareef

    Reply
  11. Helly

    Dear Peng,
    We are a family of 4 with PR (sponsored by SA) which expires in August 2017. We arrived in Jan 2016 and thus have spent less than 2 years in Australia. My husband works overseas and visits us for a couple of weeks. He had submitted his RRV application 3 weeks ago while in Australia. After more than 2 weeks, we were asked for more information showing ties. We have placed evidence of ties such as childrens’ school, our home and an investment property as well as having bank accounts. In a few days, he has to leave to return to work. My question is:

    – why is it taking a long time – shoud we be worried?
    – can the approval be given if my husband leaves Australia?
    – my husband was the primary applicant when applying for the PR. Does this matter?
    – should me (wife) and my 2 children also apply for the RRV to support my husband’s application? – although we are not going to travel until December, which we thought to apply in October once we have firmed up plans for travel. And even by October we would not have met the 2 years rule and thus will need to apply for RRV.

    Thank you Peng in advance.

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Helly,
      Department can decide the application when he is outside of Australia.
      He should be able to get a 1 year visa if he has immediate family living in Australia.
      Department’s processing time slowed down a lot after July changes.
      You can contact your case officer if you want to follow-up.
      PC

      Reply
        1. Peng Cheng Post author

          ​Hi John,
          Providing passport, birth certificate and driver’s licence for example would prove that.
          PC

          Reply
      1. Kenneth Hui

        Dear Peng,

        I am on a similar situation as my online application was submitted on July 16 but still with the status “received” without further update.
        I have my RRV renewal on a yearly basis since 2014 as my spouse and son is living in Australia whereas I need to work overseas to support the living.
        In my past experience, the RRV will be granted within 6-7 days after the submission, I wonder what is the issue to the processing time slowed down a lot after the July changes. Are the changes of July really an impact to Visa applications?

        Cheers and thanks for the information.
        KH

        Reply
        1. Peng Cheng Post author

          ​Hi Kenneth,
          Yes the Department’s processing time is very slow at the moment after the July changes.
          The requirements for the 1 year 155 visa haven’t changed – you should be able to get this visa if you have provided evidence of your family ties.
          PC

          Reply
      2. Helly

        Dear Peng,
        Thank you for responding to my query. Its a relief to know that the reason for the delay is because of the July changes. We have not yet got any response. We thought not to contact the case officer for fear that it may anger or irritate them.
        Thank you again Peng

        Reply

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