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.