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.

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

  1. Jo

    Hi peng,

    My new born baby is an Australian citizen but I am still holding the PR. After the child borned in brisbane then we had moved back to singapore. My hubby is a australian citizen .My RRV will be expiry soon. I have no full filled the RRV 2/5 years requirement.

    From what I see from the website that I will eligible for 1 year RRV155 renewal due to I have an Australian citizen living together with me in overseas. (New born baby) We have no intention to move back to australia in next 5 years.

    My question is, after I got my1 year RRV 155 renewal next year. Will it be possible I will get yearly RRV 155 renewal for the next 5 years even though I didn’t return to australia no even a day?

    Reply
  2. Yolanda

    Hi Peng,

    I am leaving on the 14th December 2017 and be back by 9 January 2018. I thought the RRV decision is just within 5days that is why I am not bothered.

    My case is I have not lived here in Oz for 2 years out of the 5years requirement. I am about to lodge my visa online today but I am wondering why it does not show the attachment button? Can I file my application for an RRV online even if I don’t meet the 2 year requirement?

    Thanks,

    Reply
  3. Lisa

    Hi Peng,

    I first granted my PR in 2010, I left Australia in 2012, my current visa expires on 15/12, I lodged my application offshore on 17/11, still haven’t heard a thing from dept.

    1. Can I wait for the decision offshore as my visa expires within a week?
    2. How do I enter the country if I don’t hear anything from the dept and my current visa expired?

    Very nervous at the moment!
    Thank you very much

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Lisa,
      1. Can I wait for the decision offshore as my visa expires within a week?
      You actually need to be outside of Australia at the time of decision if you were outside of Australia at the time of application.
      2. How do I enter the country if I don’t hear anything from the dept and my current visa expired?
      Perhaps a visitor visa may be appropriate.
      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
  4. Ari

    Dear Peng,

    What’s the average processing time now for RRV, lodge few days ago still no progress, last year I was helping my Aunty to do the same it only took 24 hours. I need to back home ASAP as my grandma in the critical condition. What are my option. Can you help?

    Thank you

    Regards

    Ari

    Reply
  5. Kim

    Thanks for all of the information.

    I have had Australian PR since 2009. However, I have not spent 2/5 last years in Australia (though I have accumulated several months during this time.) My PR will expire in the next year. It sounds like I will need to apply for the 1 year RRV to continue traveling in and out. My question is, when I do land back in Australia for extended/ permanent stay with family, will I need to start over in re- applying for PR and medicare etc, or will it be automatically granted? Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Kim,
      You need to lodge your application with the Department – this isn’t automatic. Please see above post.
      PC

      Reply
  6. Thana

    Hi, I am a PR and I have lived for 1year 3 months in Australia in the last 2 years. I have to urgently travel back to India tomorrow. I applied for my visa 1 week ago but it is yet to be granted. If I travel tomorrow, will I get my Rrv while I am offshore? Will being offshore affect the decision on my RRV application?

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Thana,
      Department’s processing time is around 3-6 weeks, and this can be decided when you are outside of Australia.
      PC

      Reply
  7. Sejal S.

    Hello Peng,

    I lodged my RRV application first week of November & its the 5th week & still hvn’t heard back on the outcome. What’s the expected wait time these days? Note: I do not meet 2 out of 5 year requirement, however i lodged while in Australia.

    Reply
  8. Kev

    Hi Peng,

    I was granted PR in 2008 but left after a month for family reasons. My wife is a PR living in Australia and I have a job offer. Would I be able to apply for the 1 year RRV online or do I need to apply by post using the paper form? Thanks for your help.

    Reply
  9. Vann

    Hi Peng Cheng,

    Many thank you for your kind help to clarify everyone’s questions.

    My family were granted PR visa in June 2010. Our initial PR visa were expired in June 2015. My wife and children have moved to Australia and are now living in Australia. They are eligible to apply for renewal of RRV.

    For me, I still haven’t been able to move to Australia yet. So far, I visited my family on tourist visa (subclass 600) for 4 times during the period from the expiry of my PR visa in June 2015 to now, each visit lasted around 2 weeks.

    Now, I am outside Australia and plan to apply for a tourist visa to visit my family again in January 2018. When I am in Australia in January 2018, I plan to apply for RRV. Am I eligible to apply for the RRV as a former PR based on my relationship with my wife who is now applying for RRV?

    Many thanks for your help.

    Vann

    Reply
  10. Teri

    Hi, my mum have applied for renewal of rrv 155 on 20th nov. On 2nd dec we just got notice that we need national police check done. She is leaving overseas on 13 dec. What if the rrv renewal isn’t granted by that time yet? Can she just go overseas and make sure it’s granted before she comes back to aust? Thanks!!!

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi Teri,
      Her application can be decided when she is outside of Australia, but it would be up to the department’s processing in terms of when this is finalised.
      You can try and ask the department to decide an application before a certain date if you provide reasoning with your request.
      PC

      Reply
    2. Nadia

      Hi… I am also stuck in the same position. I applied on 26 Nov, usually it take 3 to 4 days to get RRV. But I am still waiting.I rescheduled my flight till 8 of December. But not quite sure whats going to happen. My application status still shows ‘Recieved’ .

      Regards
      Nadia

      Reply
  11. W

    Greetings,

    I am in a bit of jam. I have a RRV Subclass 155, which lapses Dec 14 2017. I’ve just filed for renewal and paid the fee. the issue is that I am scheduled for business travel on the Dec 8 – 17. Typically the visa is renewed in 4-5 days, but now i fear it may not be renewed by the time i leave. My question to you: can i return on a tourist visa on a lapsed Subclass 155?

    regards,

    W.

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi,
      You can return on a visitor visa, but the 155 visa that you lodged when you were outside of Australia can’t be decided when you are in Australia.
      You may need to lodge a new 155 visa after you return to Australia.
      PC

      Reply
      1. Kay

        Hi everyone
        This is for information for those awaiting an RRV visa. I applied offshore on 27 October and the visa was granted on 30 November. I spoke to the immigration people before then as I was concerned the visa might not come through before my travel date, ans asked specifically if I could travel on a tourist authority. The advice was not to, as this could jeopardise my permanent resident status. It seems there is no fixed rule on this, and a decision depends upon individual case officers. But I didn’t want to risk it.

        Reply
  12. SC

    Hi Peng,

    You are doing amazing work for helping others. My question is that i am eligible for RRV, but my wife n daughter haven’t spent two years and are not eligible and also would be coming permanently to australia after 5-6 years coz of personal circumstances. They still hold PR which is going to expire in a August 2018…

    1) I believe they will get RRV for one year and have to be renewed every year… – – Am i right and what condition need to be fulfilled to make it renewable every year.
    2) any solution with you that they can come permanently after 5-6 years as i believe i will remain eligible for RRV or permanent resident at that time also.

    Thanks in advance for your replies

    Reply
    1. Peng Cheng Post author

      Hi SC,
      If you have a 5 year RRV, then your family members who have or previously held permanent residency can get 1 year visas on the basis of your family relationship.
      PC

      Reply

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