Changes for Australian permanent residents applying for Resident Return Visas

22 March 2012


Australian Immigration has announced that from 15 February 2012 the validity period for Resident Return Visas (Subclass 155) will be reduced from five years to one year when the applicant has not lived in Australia for more than two of the last five years.

The Resident Return 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 if you re-enter Australia and meet the necessary requirements.

Australian permanent residents should take note of this change. The changes mean that if a permanent visa holder has not lived in Australia for at least 2 years in the five years prior to application, but shows "substantial ties" to Australia, an RRV will be granted for one year only. Australian Immigration defines substantial ties as: business, cultural, employment or personal ties which are of benefit to Australia.

If you do not meet the requirements of the RRV you can be assessed for the Three Month Resident Return visa. This visa is usually granted as an "interim" visa to allow travel for Australian Permanent residents whose visa is about to expire and who are not eligible for the Five Year Resident Return Visa.

Therefore, from 15 February 2012 if a permanent visa holder has not lived in Australia for at least two years in the five years prior to application, but has eligible substantial ties, an RRV will be granted for one year only. Prior to 15 February, the applicant would have been granted a five year RRV.

Please note that permanent residents who have spent at last two years in the last 5 years in Australia will still be granted a full five year RRV. Immigration officers will also be able to use their discretion and grant visas to applicants who are contributing to Australia's economy, but don't fully satisfy the physical residence requirements.


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