Maintain your status quo

Date: Mar 01, 2010
Document Type: Newsletter

p>Visa status is hard to maintain, especially when travelling in and out of several countries. If you’re an Australian permanent resident who wants to travel, and wish to keep your status, you should consider a Five Year Resident Return Visa (subclass 155).


Can anyone apply for a five year resident return visa?

You must be:

  • An Australian permanent resident
  • A former Australian permanent resident whose last permanent visa was not cancelled
  • A former Australian citizen who lost or renounced their citizenship

You must also meet one of the following eligibility requirements:

  • Residence requirement (spending two of the last five years in Australia as a permanent resident).
  • Substantial ties and compelling reasons for absence (evidence of substantial business, cultural, employment or personal ties of benefit to Australia, and if absent for more than five years, evidence of compelling reasons for your absence).
  • You are the immediate family member of a Resident Return Visa holder.
  • Overseas applicants (if your last departure from Australia was not as an Australian permanent resident or Australian citizen, you must have been an Australian citizen, or an Australian permanent resident, less than 10 years before the application, and you must not have been absent from Australia for a total period of more than five years since last departing as an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident unless there are compelling reasons for the absence).

You are ineligible for this visa if your most recent permanent visa was a Business Skills visa listed below and was cancelled or subject to a notice of intention to cancel.

  • Business Owner visa (Subclasses 127 and 840)
  • Senior Executive Visa (Subclasses 128 and 841)
  • State/Territory Sponsored Business Owner Visa (Subclasses 129 and 842)
  • State/Territory Sponsored Senior Executive Visa (Subclasses 130 and 843)
  • Investment-Linked Visa (Subclasses 131 and 844)
  • Business Talent Visa (Subclass 132).

What does a five year Resident Return Visa do?

This visa allows you to leave and enter Australia multiple times, within the validity period of the visa, and maintains your status as a permanent resident.

This visa lasts up to five years from the date of grant. After these five years, you must obtain another Resident Return visa if you want to continue travelling to and from Australia as a permanent resident.

Do I need to obtain this visa at all times?

Not particularly. You do not need to obtain this visa if you hold the following documents in your passport:

  • Authority to Return (ATR)
  • Return Endorsement (RE)

These documents are still valid if:

  • they have not been cancelled
  • they have not been ceased by the grant of another visa since 1994
  • you have returned to Australia within 3 years of each departure
  • you have not become an Australian Citizen.

What else do I need to know?

Always consult legal advice before applying for any visas.

In general, a five year Resident Return Visa should be:

  • Applied for before leaving Australia.
  • Applied online, by mail or in person if in Australia (note you are not able to apply online if you are a former Australian permanent resident or former Australian citizen. If outside Australia, you can only apply by mail or in person.
  • Notified to be lost, expired or stolen.
  • Supported by applicable information and documents.
  • Family members travelling on your passport should be included on your application form. Those with separate passports must apply separately.

What are my alternatives?

If you do not meet the requirements for eligibility of a five year Resident Return visa, your application is assessed against a three month Resident Return visa. To be eligible for this visa, you must have:

  • spent less than two of the last five years in Australia as a permanent resident
  • had compelling and compassionate reasons for departing Australia and for any absence from Australia of more than three months

Valid visa status is very important for Australian immigration. It is always advised to seek legal advice before applying for any visa.

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