Australian Residents Return Visa (RRV)

Australian Visa Types

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Resident Return Visas (RRVs)

The purpose of RRVs is to facilitate the re-entry into Australia of non-citizen permanent residents; and to ensure that only those people who have a genuine commitment to residing in Australia, or who are contributing to Australia’s well-being, retain the right to return to Australia and remain permanently.

The applicant must be:

  • a permanent resident holding a valid permanent visa
  • a former permanent resident whose last permanent visa was not cancelled, or
  • a former Australian citizen who has lost or renounced his or her Australian citizenship.

For a five- year RRV, applicants must have spent two years out of the last five years in Australia as a permanent resident or have substantial and beneficial ties to Australia. Applicants who have been absent from Australia for more than five years must also have compelling reasons for their absence of more than five years.

A three-month RRV may be granted to persons who don’t yet qualify for a five-year RRV but have strong reasons to go overseas, such as the severe illness of a family member. Applicants must have spent at least one day in Australia in the last five years as a permanent resident, and have compelling and compassionate reasons for departing Australia.

Spouses and family members of an RRV holder who are or have been permanent residents may be granted RRVs on the basis that their family head holds an RRV. An RRV granted on this basis will have the same validity period as the family head’s, whether the family member applies for an RRV at the same time as the family head or later.

If the family member meets one of the other criteria for an RRV in their own right, they will be granted an RRV with the full five-year validity.

What is a Resident Return Visa (RRV)?

a Resident Return Visa (RRV) facilitates the re-entry into Australia of non-citizen permanent residents. The RRV ensures that only those people who have a genuine commitment to residing in Australia or who are contributing to Australia’s well being, retain the right to return to Australia and remain permanently.

RRVs are usually issued with a validity of 5 years or 3 months. An RRV allows Australian permanent residents to travel from, and return to Australia as often as they wish within the validity of the visa, whilst maintaining their status as permanent residents.

Do I need a Resident Return Visa (RRV)?

Everybody, except Australian citizens and New Zealand citizens travelling on their New Zealand passport, must have a visa to travel to Australia. If you are a permanent resident of Australia and intend to travel away from Australia, you should ensure that you have a visa, which is valid for re-entry, on your return to Australia. This visa can be your original permanent resident visa, or a Resident Return Visa, as long as it authorises travel to Australia on the date you return. The visa can be in your current passport or in an expired passport that you also carry with you while you travel.

Permanent Residents should obtain their RRVs before leaving Australia, to avoid travel delays and the need to obtain an RRV through an Australian diplomatic office overseas.

What are the visa requirements for a Resident Return Visa (RRV)?

To apply for a Resident Return Visa (RRV) you must be:

  • a permanent resident holding a valid permanent visa,
  • a former permanent resident whose last permanent visa was not cancelled, or
  • a former Australian citizen who has lost or renounced their Australian citizenship.

For a five-year RRV:

  • you must be lawfully present in Australia for a total of at least 2 years in the 5 years immediately before lodging the application for the visa;
  • you must have substantial and beneficial business, cultural, employment or personal ties to Australia; and
  • if you have been absent from Australia for more than five years, you must also have compelling reasons for your absence.

If you do not meet these criteria, but have to leave Australia for compassionate and compelling reasons, you can apply for a 3 month RRV.

If you are unable to meet the RRV requirements in your own right, but you are a member of the family unit of a person who holds an RRV, you may be granted an RRV with the same validity period as the family head’s.

Can I continue to use my permanent residence visa when my passport expires?

When your passport with a valid Australia permanent residence visa expires, the visa does not become invalid. You may choose to have your existing visa reprinted into your new passport (processing fee applies), or you may merely carry your old passport (with valid visa) and your new passport together, whenever travelling in or out of Australia.

What do I do once I migrate to Australia and the re-entry component of my permanent residence visa expires?

Once in Australia, permanent residents only need to obtain a subsequent resident return visa if and when they wish to leave Australia. Permanent resident visas provide for an indefinite stay in Australia

My passport will expire before my visa is due to expire?

This is not a problem you may travel with both your new passport and your old passport with the visa attached. Alternatively you may approach any DIBP office in the world and get your visa re-evidenced in your new passport. There may be a charge for this.

Emergencies overseas

A permanent resident overseas who is unable to prove their status, eg if his or her passport has been stolen and they have obtained a new one, may apply for a temporary RRV if they have an urgent and compelling reason to return.

People who return to Australia on temporary RRVs must apply at a DoHA office to regain their permanent status within three months of their arrival. People who do not will become unlawful non-citizens, subject to detention and removal from Australia.

Applying for RRVs

Any DoHAoffice will accept an application for an RRV. In Australia, RRV applicants do not need to fill in a form if they:

  • attend an office in person, present a valid passport and pay the application charge, or
  • mail a request for an RRV with their passport and payment of the application charge.

Such applications are usually decided within 24 hours, and applicants then make a brief visit to a DoHA office to have the visa label placed in their passports.

If more than one person is travelling on the same passport, only one application and one charge is needed. Family members with separate passports must apply and pay separately.

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