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The ultimate guide to Australian Resident Return Visas

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A Resident Return Visa is a permanent visa to reinstate a travel facility that can be granted in various circumstances to different groups of permanent residents and in some occasions, former Australian permanent residents. If you have been granted a permanent visa to Australia and you are not a citizen yet, or if you lived outside of Australia as a former permanent resident and wish to return to Australia, you will find this article helpful.

This visa is mainly applied for by non-citizen permanent residents of Australia who wish to temporarily leave the country beyond the initial five year travel facility allowed on any permanent visa. Only Australian citizens have the right to travel and live outside of Australia without restrictions. Otherwise, even if you have or had a permanent visa at some stage, you have to check your travel facility rights before departing Australia.

Who is eligible for a Resident Return Visa?

  • If you are the holder of a permanent resident visa for Australia, you will have two distinct rights. Firstly the right to remain and live in Australia permanently and secondly the right to travel and enter Australia for a period of 5 years from the grant of your permanent visa. If you pass this 5 years period (or about to reach it and) you are not an Australian citizen, you will have to obtain an RRV visa to allow you to travel and return to Australia.
  • If you were a permanent resident of Australia previously and your visa has expired, you will require an RRV to re-enter Australia.
  • If you were formerly an Australian citizen you will require an RRV if you either lost or renounced your citizenship.

If you have either an Authority to Return (ATR) or Return Endorsement (RE) document, you will not require a Resident Return Visa.

Subclasses of Resident Return visa

Subclass 155- RRV

You will be eligible to apply for this Subclass if any of the following circumstances apply to you:

You must meet the residence requirement or show sufficient ties to Australia.

  • The residence requirement: You must have spent two years in the last five years in Australia as either an Australian permanent resident or a citizen; or
  • If you do not meet this residency requirement, you must have substantial business, cultural, employment or personal ties of benefit to Australia, and:
  • If you are lodging your application while you are in Australia, you must show compelling reasons for any continuous absence from Australia of more than five years;
  • If are lodging your application while overseas, were a permanent resident or citizen when you last left Australia and can show compelling reasons for any continuous absence from Australia of more than five years;
  • If are lodging your application while overseas, you must have been a permanent resident or citizen in the last 10 years and can show compelling reasons for absence(s) over five years.

If you meet the residence requirement you should be granted a 5 years travel facility. If you do not meet residence requirement and can prove substantial ties for the benefit of Australia, then your travel facility will be for one year.

If you are the partner of a person who holds a Subclass 155 visa, or who has also applied for a Resident Return visa, you can apply for this visa if you satisfy the criteria for grant. You will then be granted a travel facility for one year or less.

Subclass 157- RRV

This is a less desirable Subclass in the RRV group but if you do not meet the requirements for Subclass 155, you may be able to possibly apply for a Subclass 157.

You might be able to be granted this visa if you:

  • have lawfully spent at least one day and less than 2 years in the past five years in Australia as a permanent resident or an Australian citizen; and
  • can show a compelling and compassionate reason for leaving Australia or, if you are outside Australia, for leaving when you did; and
  • If you spent more than three continuous months outside of Australia immediately before applying, you must show that you were absent for a compelling and compassionate reason, only.

A Subclass 157 only grant you a travel facility for 3 months from the day of grant.

Substantial ties of Resident Return visa

If you do not meet the residence requirement for a Subclass 155, you must establish that you have one or more of the following substantial ties to Australia to be granted the visa.

Business ties

You must:

  • have substantial ownership interests in an Australian business and
  • be personally involved at a senior level in the day-to-day operations and management of the business, and
  • show you are a benefit to Australia.

The business activity needs to:

  • be ongoing,
  • regular activity,
  • commercial in nature,
  • has an intention to make a profit and
  • has a system of record keeping and management that substantiates the business activity claimed.

Cultural ties

Include a range of intellectual, artistic, sporting or religious activities pursuits and you need to provide proof your role in adding to Australia’s cultural life. This can include publications you have written, your membership of cultural associations, any media articles about you or proof of your performances.

Employment ties

You must show that

  • you are currently employed, or
  • have a formal offer of employment in Australia, or
  • are employed overseas by an Australian organisation, or
  • that your employment by a non-Australian organisation has a demonstrable benefit to Australia, for example, working as a representative of Australia for an international organisation.

Personal ties

Personal ties include substantial ones that could benefit Australia if you are, or have been, a participating member of the Australian community and economy.

For example, living in Australia for a long time or living overseas with an Australian citizen partner is taken into account. You can prove that you have personal assets or family who live in Australia if they are both substantial and of benefit to Australia.

Useful tips

  • All your family members who will also be travelling outside of Australia will also require their own RRV and separate applications must be made for each person.

About the author 

This article was written by Marial LewisMarial is an admitted lawyer in Australia and holds a double degree in Commerce and Law as well as a Master degree in Legal Practice. She was awarded John Gibson Young Migration Lawyer of the year award in 2020 and was a finalist in multiple awards in 2019 such as 30 under 30, the Rising Star of the year and the Suburban Lawyer of the year.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: ImmiAdvisor recommends you obtain your own independent immigration, legal, accounting, financial or taxation advice as appropriate. It is solely your responsibility to evaluate the accuracy, completeness and usefulness of all information provided through this blog/website. In no event will ImmiAdvisor Pty Ltd or the author of this article be liable to you or anyone else for any decision made or action taken by you or anyone else in reliance upon any information contained on or omitted from this blog/website. Immigration law is complex and is subject to constant regulatory and policy change.  The information provided here may therefore be outdated and no longer accurate.  The information provided above is a general guide only – it is not tailored for your specific circumstances or immigration purposes and you must under no circumstances rely on this information for immigration planning or the lodgement of an application with the Australian government or related bodies.  In order to ensure your eligibility is accurately assessed and to allow for tactical decision making that would best suit your desired immigration outcome, it is essential that you consult with a capable immigration advisor registered with the relevant body.

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Marial Lewis

Marial is an accredited specialist lawyer in Immigration Law and a multi-award…


    • Avatar

      Thank you consultantsvisa

      Feel free to connect with us should you have any migration law queries.


    • Avatar

      Hi Malika

      If you still need assistance, feel free to contact us through clicking the profile above

      Kind regards

      Crossover Law Group

  1. Avatar

    Suresh Muhandiram

    I have applied for rrv exactly 3 months ago..still I havnt got result though estimated processing time says 83 days to 3 months… could you pls tell me maximum time before I get a decision… your answer will be a great help to plan my future…..

    • Avatar

      Hi Suresh

      Unfortunately there is no maximum time as the department can take as long as they want. The processing times they advertise are only average for 75% to 90% of applications.

      If you still have any questions, feel free to contact us through clicking our profile

      Kind regards



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