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.
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.