Resident Return Visa Subclass 155 and 157

If you leave Australia after your permanent visa travel facility has expired, you will not be able to return to Australia as a permanent resident, and must apply for and be granted this visa before your can return to Australia.

Resident Return Visa Australia (RRV)

Resident Return Visa Subclass 155 Visa and Subclass 157 Visa

You must be either an Australian permanent resident, or a former Australian permanent resident whose last permanent visa was not cancelled, or a former Australian citizen who lost or renounced Australian citizenship. Australian citizens are not eligible to apply for an RRV.

Resident Return (Class BB) Subclass 155 Visa (Five Year Resident Return)

Subclass 155 is a permanent visa with a travel facility of up to 5 years. Applicants who have been in Australia as a permanent resident for a total of 2 years in the last 5 years are eligible to be granted the maximum travel facility of 5 years.

Resident Return (Class BB) Subclass 157 Visa (Three Month Resident Return)

Subclass 157 is a permanent visa with a travel facility of 3 months. It is generally granted to applicants who do not meet the requirements for a Subclass 155 visa, for example, an applicant who has recently commenced living in Australia, but needs to travel overseas for compelling and compassionate reasons.

Resident Return (Class TP) Subclass 159 Visa (Provisional Resident Return)

Subclass 159 is a provisional (temporary) visa for which application can only be made outside Australia and that is for persons outside Australia who cannot prove they are or were a permanent resident. The visa enables the holder to return to Australia and stay for 3 months to give them time to submit a permanent visa (for example Subclass 155) application and supporting documents confirming their permanent resident status.

Resident Return Visa Cost

Application Charge for Main Applicant: A$410 to apply online, A$490 to apply on paper.

Resident Return Visa Processing Time

Subclass 155: 25% of applications in Less than 1 day, 50% of applications in Less than 1 day, 75% of applications in 3 days, 90% of applications in 75 days.
Subclass 157: 25% of applications in 3 months, 50% of applications in 3 months, 75% of applications in 3 months, 90% of applications in 4 months.

Establishing Permanent Resident or Citizen Status

Resident Return Visa Applicant Immigration Status

At the time of application for a Resident Return visa, an applicant must be: an Australian permanent resident, or a former Australian citizen who lost or who renounced their Australian citizenship, or a former Australian permanent resident whose last permanent visa was not cancelled.

Australian permanent residents

An Australian permanent resident is a non-citizen who is the holder of a permanent visa. There is no requirement for the person to be 'usually resident in Australia'.

Former Australian permanent residents

To be eligible for an RRV, an applicant does not have to be an Australian permanent resident at the time of application, provided they have been a permanent resident in the past, and their most recently held permanent visa was not cancelled.

Absorbed Persons

An absorbed person visa (APV) is a permanent visa granted by operation of law under s34 of the Act. To be an APV holder, the person must be a non-citizen who was in Australia on 2 April 1984, and before that date ceased to be an immigrant, and did not leave Australia between 2 April 1984 and 1 September 1994, and immediately before 1 September 1994, was not a person to whom s20 of the Act (as then in force - the "old Act") applied.

Australian citizens

There is no legal power to grant an RRV to an Australian citizen.

Former Australian citizens

Although there is no legal power to grant an RRV to an Australian citizen, the RRV subclasses include provisions to enable persons who have lost or renounced their Australian citizenship to be considered for the grant of an RRV. Applicants who lost their Australian citizenship before 4 April 2002 by acquiring the citizenship of another country should resume Australian citizenship as an alternative to applying for an RRV.

Subclass 155 Resident Return Visa (Five Year Resident Return)

Subclass 155 Resident Return Visa

At the time of application for a Resident Return visa Subclass 155, an applicant must be: an Australian permanent resident, or a former Australian citizen who lost or who renounced their Australian citizenship, or a former Australian permanent resident whose last permanent visa was not cancelled.

Subclass 155 visa with 5 year travel facility

The applicant must have been physically present in Australia for a total of at least 2 years in the last 5 years and throughout that 2 years was a permanent resident or Australian citizen.
The intention of the 5 year travel facility is that those permanent residents living in Australia are provided with more beneficial travel arrangements than those permanent residents who are living outside Australia.

Subclass 155 visa with 1 year travel facility

The applicant must have substantial, business, cultural, employment or personal ties of benefit to Australia and has not been absent from Australia for 5 years or more, unless there are compelling reasons.

Member of the family unit of Subclass 155 Visa Holder

The applicant who is a member of the family unit of a person who has met or meets the criteria for the grant of Subclass 155 visa, will be granted an RRV with a 1 year travel facility unless the remaining travel facility of the RRV held by the family head is for less than 1 year. This is because the travel period of the RRV granted to the applicant cannot exceed that of the family head's RRV.

Lawful presence in Australia for Subclass 155 Visa

The applicant has been in Australia in the 5 years immediately before application, and 2 years must have been as a permanent visa holder and/or an Australian citizen.
The applicant does not have to have 2 years consecutive residence, provided the time they have spent totals at least 2 years (that is 730 days). Periods of holding a temporary visa or no visa in the last 5 years do not exclude an applicant from being able to meet the '2  out of 5 years' criteria.
During that 5 year period, any periods during which the applicant held a temporary visa (other than a Border visa or ETA that the applicant held at the same time as a permanent visa) or a bridging visa (whether or not that bridging visa was in effect), cannot be counted towards the 2 year total.

Subclass 157 Resident Return Visa (Three Month Resident Return)

Subclass 157 Resident Return Visa

At the time of application for a Resident Return visa Subclass 157, an applicant must be: an Australian permanent resident, or a former Australian citizen who lost or who renounced their Australian citizenship, or a former Australian permanent resident whose last permanent visa was not cancelled.

Purpose of Subclass 157 Visa (RRV)

Subclass 157 is intended for permanent residents or former citizens who have less than 2 years' physical presence in Australia and who have not yet established substantial ties of benefit to Australia. For example, they may have settled in Australia when nearing the end of their migrant travel facility and need to travel overseas before they have established substantial ties.

Subclass 157 RRV Eligibility

The applicant was lawfully present in Australia as a Australian permanent resident or Australian citizen for at least one day (but less than 2 years) in the last 5 years; and
During that time did not hold one of the following visas: a temporary visa (other than a Subclass 601 (Electronic Travel Authority) visa, a Subclass 773 Border visa, Subclass 956 Electronic Travel Authority (Business Entrant - Long Validity) visa, Subclass 976 Electronic Travel Authority (Visitor) visa or Subclass 977 Electronic Travel Authority (Business Entrant - Short Validity) visa held concurrently with the permanent visa or the permanent entry permit), or a bridging visa; and
If in Australia, has compelling and compassionate reasons for leaving Australia or, if outside Australia, had compelling and compassionate reasons for their last departure from Australia.

Member of the family unit of Subclass 157 Visa applicant or Visa Holder

The applicant who is a member of the family unit of a person who has met or meets the criteria for the grant of Subclass 157 visa, will be granted an RRV with a 1 year travel facility unless the remaining travel facility of the RRV held by the family head is for less than 1 year. This is because the travel period of the RRV granted to the applicant cannot exceed that of the family head's RRV.

Compassionate and compelling Reasons

The applicant is required to have 'compelling and compassionate reasons' for leaving Australia or, if outside Australia, for their last departure. This is a strong test of the reasons for the applicant's absence from Australia because the applicant must demonstrate both components and a reason which is considered 'compelling' will not necessarily also be a 'compassionate' reason for departure.
'Compelling and Compassionate' reasons may include: unexpected severe illness or death of a family member, or the applicant being involved in custody proceedings for their child.
If an applicant claims their need to travel is to finalise their relocation to Australia, then the need to finalise their affairs in their country of former residence could be considered compelling and compassionate in this context.

Resident Return Visa Residence Requirement

Have substantial ties to Australia

Your ties must be both substantial and of benefit to Australia, and can be: business ties, cultural ties, employment ties and/or personal ties (including family ties).

Meet residence requirements

You must either have been present in Australia for 2 years in the last 5 years as the holder of a permanent visa (or permanent entry permit), or as an Australian citizen, in which case you will get a 5-year travel facility.
OR
Be outside Australia, and not absent for 5 continuous years or more before the date of application (unless you have compelling reasons), and hold a permanent visa or last left Australia as a permanent resident or citizen (but subsequently lost citizenship), and be able to demonstrate substantial ties to Australia that are of benefit to Australia, then you can only be given a maximum 12 months travel facility.
OR
Be outside Australia and were an Australian citizen or permanent resident less than 10 years before you applied, and not absent from Australia for periods that total more than 5 years (unless you have compelling reasons) between the date you left Australia as a permanent resident or citizen and the date of application, and be able to demonstrate substantial ties to Australia that are of benefit to Australia, then you can only be given a maximum 12 months travel facility.
OR
Be in Australia, and be able to demonstrate substantial ties to Australia that are of benefit to Australia, and not been absent for 5 continuous years since grant of your most recent permanent visa or when you stopped being an Australian citizen (unless you have compelling reasons), then you can only be given a maximum 12 months travel facility.
OR
Be the member of family unit of a person who already holds an RRV or has lodged a separate application for an RRV, and meets the time of application criteria for grant, in which case you can only be given a maximum 12 months travel facility.

In calculating the residence requirement relating to the first dot-point above, the:
- 2-year period is counted as 730 days;
- 5-year period is counted back from the RRV application lodgement date (not from the date of RRV decision);
- date of arrival and date of departure are both included in the count of days in Australia. Only one day is counted if the applicant arrives and departs on the same day. Only one day is counted if a visa expires and another one is granted on the same day. A part-day spent in Australia by a permanent visa holder is counted as a full day.

Compelling Reasons for Absence

Substantial ties and compelling reasons for absence

If you do not meet the residence requirement, you must provide documents that show evidence of your substantial ties, which are of benefit to Australia, and compelling reasons for any absences from Australia of 5 or more continuous years; or if you are outside Australia and were an Australian citizen or permanent resident less than 10 years before the application, compelling reasons for any periods of absence that total more than 5 years from the date you last departed Australia.

Compelling reasons for absence

Your reasons should include any elements which you thought were compelling at the time. You should indicate how the compelling reasons for your absence link to the entirety of your absence from Australia. This could be done by a statement explaining the circumstances of your absence such as:
- Severe illness or death of an overseas family member.
- Work or study commitments by the applicant or the applicant’s partner, that are of a professional nature, in circumstances where the acquired experience results in a benefit to Australia.
- The applicant is living overseas in an ongoing relationship with an Australian citizen partner, or has minor children.
- The applicant or the applicant’s accompanying family members have been receiving complex or lengthy medical treatment, preventing travel.
- The applicant has been involved in legal proceedings such as sale of property, custody, or contractual obligations and the timing was beyond the applicant's control.
- The applicant has been caught up in a natural disaster, political uprising or other similar event preventing them from travel the applicant can demonstrate they have been waiting for a significant personal event to occur that has prevented them from relocating to or returning to Australia. The period of time for any such event would have to be reasonable in its context, for example:
- A 12 month delay while waiting for a dependent child to complete their schooling or a tertiary qualification is likely to be a decision that a reasonable person, facing the same set of circumstances would make.
- Waiting to relocate to Australia for several years until a dependent child completes their schooling or course of study would not generally be considered to be a decision a reasonable person would make.

It would generally be reasonable to expect that for there to have been an absence, the applicant had been residing in Australia prior to the period of absence, and there would need to be evidence the applicant had plans to live in Australia. The term compelling implies that the reasons for the absence should be forceful to the person concerned. The case officer will assess the amount of time the applicant has previously lived in Australia and their intentions of returning to Australia to live, and need to be satisfied that a reasonable person faced with the same set of circumstances as the applicant, would have made the same decision. Although a compelling reason that is beyond the applicant's control will carry greater weight, there is no legal requirement for the absence to be beyond the applicant's control for it to be considered compelling.

Substantial Ties of Benefit to Australia

About the substantial ties of benefit provision

The substantial ties of benefit to Australia provision recognises that people's lives change over time. In a mobile world, the provision recognises that people do spend time in other parts of the world for both personal and business reasons. These could be cultural, business, employment and personal ties.

Substantial cultural ties of benefit to Australia

An applicant involved in any of a range of intellectual, artistic, sporting or religious pursuits which are not strictly of a business or employment nature may be considered to have a cultural tie with Australia. 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.

Substantial business ties of benefit to Australia

Business activity implies ongoing, regular activity that is 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. An applicant needs 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.

Substantial employment ties of benefit to Australia

In assessing whether an employment tie is substantial and of benefit to Australia, a relevant consideration is whether the applicant is employed in a permanent, temporary or contract capacity, and an agreed wage or salary is paid to undertake the work. 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.

Substantial personal ties of benefit to Australia

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.

Resident Return Visa Travel Facility

How long the RRV travel facility lasts

If you are granted an RRV, the travel facility will vary depending on your circumstances as follows:

If you were present in Australia for a total of at least 2 years in the last 5 years as a permanent resident or Australian citizen

Then you meet what is known as the ‘residence requirement’ and will be given a 5-year travel facility on your RRV.

Have not met the ‘residence requirement’ but have demonstrated you have substantial ties with Australia that benefit Australia

Then you can only be given a maximum of 12 months travel facility on your RRV.

Have applied as a member of the family unit of a person who already holds an RRV, or who has lodged a separate application for an RRV

If you have applied as a member of the family unit of a person who already holds an RRV, or who has lodged a separate application for an RRV and meets the time of application criteria for grant, then you can only be given a maximum of 12 months travel facility on your RRV.

It is not possible to carry over the remaining travel facility from any previous visa to the subsequently granted RRV. You will not be able to get a refund for any lost travel facility.
You will not be able to request extension of travel facility, regardless of the circumstances (within or outside of your control).
It is not possible to postpone the grant of an RRV once all visa requirements are met.
If you hold an RRV, you should always be aware of the expiry date of the travel facility before any travel arrangements are made. You can check this on VEVO.

Resident Return Visa FAQ's

Renewal of Subclass 155 or Subclass 157 Resident Return Visa (RRV)

If your Resident Return Visa expires then you will need to make a new application for another Resident Return Visa to be granted.

What is the difference between Subclass 155 visa and Subclass 157 visa

When an Resident Return Visa application is lodged, applicants are assessed against the criteria for both Subclass 155 visa and Subclass 157 visa. The applicant is first considered against the criteria for a Subclass 155 visa. If the applicant is ineligible for a Subclass 155 visa, then they are considered against the criteria for a Subclass 157 visa. If an applicant is eligible for both subclasses, then they are granted a Subclass 155, because it is more advantageous. If the requirements for subclass 155 RRV are not met, and the applicant is eligible for a Subclass 157 RRV, the maximum travel facility that can be granted with a Subclass 157 RRV is 3 months.

Resident Return Visa Checklist

1. Identity documents such as passport (photo, personal details, passport issue and expiry dates), birth certificate, proof of name change such as marriage or divorce certificate. Other examples of documents include: Australian driver's licence, national identity card, UNHCR document, aircrew identity document, seafarer identity document, military identity document, proof of age card and student card.
2. If you are or have been married, widowed, divorced or permanently separated, provide proof such as marriage certificates, divorce documents, death certificates, separation documents or statutory declarations.
3. Provide an overseas police certificate from every country, including your home country, where you spent a total of 12 months or more in the last 10 years since you turned 16, any military service records or discharge papers if you served in the armed forces of any country.
4. Passport size photographs.
5. Evidence of residential address such as electricity, gas or water bill rates, notice, rental contract and bank statement.
6. Examples of first entry to Australia such as current or previous passport, travel document with a visa, such as Document for Travel to Australia, PLO56 (M56) or Titre de Voyage, proof of entry and passenger list from National Archives of Australia.