Resident Return visa

Have you been an Australian Permanent Resident for 5 years with plans to travel overseas? Are you not sure about your rights as an Australian Permanent Resident to travel in and out of the country?

Visapath will help you to make sure your visa is up-to-date.

Australian Resident Return visas

If you have been granted a permanent visa, you have been given the right to settle in Australia permanently. Attached to such a permanent visa is the permission to depart and re-enter Australia within five years from the date of visa grant. Within this five year period, you can choose either to apply for Australian citizenship (if eligible), or continue to retain your original nationality. If the latter is the case, you have to renew your travel facility after five years to be able to return to Australia after international travels. The automatic right of entry into Australia is reserved for Australian citizens alone.

Some permanent residents don’t realise that the travel validity of the permanent visa runs out after five years. It is one of the more puzzling stipulations of the Australian permanent resident visa that applicants are often not sufficiently informed about when applying for their permanent residency. 

What is a Resident Return visa and what can you do with it?

A Resident Return visa is granted to permanent residency holders living in Australia whose travel facility on their permanent visa has expired. While permanent visa holders can remain in Australia indefinitely, the travel facility of their visa runs out after five years. Therefore, if they plan to travel internationally after this period of time, they have to make sure that they have a right of re-entry to Australia by applying for an Australian Resident Return visa. 

A Resident Return visa can also be granted to holders of a permanent resident visa who have been living outside of Australia for a longer period of time if there are compelling reasons for their absence. By applying for a Resident Return visa, they get the chance to return to Australia and keep their permanent residency status.

As a holder of a Resident Return visa, you are allowed to travel freely to and from Australia for up to another five years. You remain to be a permanent resident with the same rights as before, it merely renews your permission to travel. When the travel facility of your Resident Return visa expires, you can apply for a new Resident Return visa. There is no limitation on how often you can consecutively apply for a Resident Return visa. 

Requirements and conditions

A Resident Return visa can be granted to Australian permanent residents if they meet certain requirements. You can apply for this visa while in Australia or from overseas. 

The most important visa requirements at a glance:

  • Applicant is Australian permanent resident, former permanent resident or former Australian citizen
  • Valid passport 
  • Meet the residency requirement or alternatives
  • last permanent resident visa was not cancelled/citizenship was not renounced or lost

Visa validity and essential visa conditions:

  • Unchanged permanent residency status and rights
  • Travel facility for up to 5 years

What about family members?

If your family members are Australian permanent residents, they are eligible for a Resident Return visa too. Have they been staying in Australia for at least two years on their permanent visa, they can apply for a 5-year visa. Should they have lived in Australia for a shorter period than that, they can still be eligible for a 1-year visa due to their family connection. Although they cannot be included in your apllication as secondary applicants, they can lodge a separate visa application. 


Residency requirement and alternative eligibility criteria for a Resident Return visa

Eligibility for a Resident Return visa depends on your individual circumstances. The most important criteria is your Australian visa status. An application for a Resident Return visa is possible if you currently hold a valid permanent resident visa. Additionally, this visa is available for former Australian citizen or former permanent residents whose last permanent visa was not cancelled.

Residency requirement

If you tick one of those boxes, the next step is to determine how long you have been living in Australia as a permanent resident. To meet this so-called residency requirement, it is sufficient to have lived in Australia for at least two out of the last five years. These two years do not have to be consecutive – you can accumulate the time over the five year period preceding the lodgement of your application. Under these circumstances you can be granted a Resident Return visa for another 5-year period and you simply can apply online for your Resident Return visa through Visapath Australia. 

How do you calculate the residency requirement for a Resident Return visa: You must have been physically present in Australia for at least 730 days in the 5-year-period prior to the day you apply for this visa. Please note that you can only count the time you have spent in Australia as a permanent visa holder but not any time you have held a temporary visa or bridging visa towards the two years.

Alternative eligibility criteria

Should you not be able to meet the residency requirement, it does not necessarily mean that you are not eligible for a Resident Return visa. There are several other factors that may be taken into consideration when determining your eligibility for this visa. For example, if you had compelling reasons for your absence, like severe illness of a family member overseas or other obligations beyond your personal control, you may still qualify. Equally, if you are able to demonstrate substantial ties to Australia which are of benefit to the country, you may also be granted a Resident Return visa. There are a number of ways you can demonstrate your connection to Australia. This can be either:

  • Personal ties, e.g. having spent your childhood or a long time in Australia,
  • Employment ties, e.g. being employed or offered employment by an Australian business,
  • Business ties, e.g. being involved in the management of an Australian business,
  • Cultural ties, e.g. involvement in certain cultural activities and public recognition.

Generally, a Resident Return visa can be applied for in or outside of Australia. Applicants who are able to meet the residency requirement may be granted a Resident Return visa for five years, whereas applicants who are able to demonstrate substantial ties or have compelling and compassionate reasons for their absence may be granted this visa with a validity of up to 12 months. The visa is granted electronically and linked to your passport number. This means that no passport label or other entry is required in your passport.

Meeting the residency requirement?

If you have spent at least two out of the last five years in Australia, regardless whether it was a consecutive period of two years or accumulated throughout multiple shorter stays, and you have been the holder of a permanent resident visa during that time, you are meeting the residency requirement. You can apply for your Resident Return visa through our online application form - fast, easy and uncomplicated.

Head to our online form and apply now for your 5 year Resident Return visa.

Not able to meet the residency requirement?

If you have not been living in Australia for at least two years during the last five, there may be other pathways to obtain a Resident Return visa and thus keep your permanent residency status. This can, for example, be the demonstration of substantial personal, business, or employment ties to Australia. Likewise, having compelling and compassionate reasons that stopped you from travelling back to Australia, may mean that you are eligible.

Get in touch with us. We will discuss your situation and help you find the best option.

Why should I apply for a Resident Return visa through Visapath Australia?

Professional Support

You will be fully supported by your personal registered migration agent, who will advise and assist you through the entire application process. They will be your central point of contact for all queries and make sure everything is as uncomplicated as possible for you.

Peace of Mind

Before submitting your visa application, we will thoroughly review your details. If additional information or documentation is needed we will tell you exactly what we need for your application. We are highly experienced in dealing with Resident Return visas, so are aware of potential pitfalls and issues that may arise. We work with you to ensure any problems are resolved quickly and successfully.

Hassle-free Online Service

Our online form is easy to navigate. Additional documents can be send by email or uploaded on our website. Our primary form of communication is by email with additional phone support if preferred or necessary. As registered migration agents, we are specialised in all areas of Australian visas and have the authority to lodge visa applications on your behalf.

Saves time

Visa applications can be time-consuming, especially if you’re working or have a young family keeping you busy. Appointing us to take care of your application will free up precious time. We also vet any application-related queries from the Department of Home Affairs on your behalf.