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Return resident visa Australia

Return to Australia with a subclass 155 or 157 visa

Are you a permanent resident of Australia planning to travel? The Resident Return visa, including subclasses 155 and 157, ensures your ability to return even after your travel validity expires. For a fee of AUD 465.00 online or AUD 545 on paper, you can maintain your permanent residency status. With the flexibility to travel in and out of Australia multiple times until the travel validity expires, this visa offers peace of mind. Just ensure you meet the eligibility criteria before applying and be cautious when seeking assistance.

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What is the return resident visa?

The Resident Return visa is your gateway to maintaining your status as an Australian permanent resident, whether you're a current or former holder of a permanent visa. As an Australian permanent resident, you have the privilege of traveling to and from Australia indefinitely. However, if you leave Australia after your original permanent visa's travel facility expires, returning as a permanent resident might pose challenges. Hence, securing this visa ensures your uninterrupted permanent resident status.

Whether you're an Australian permanent resident, a former permanent resident, or even a former Australian citizen, this visa allows you to return to Australia as a permanent resident. It grants you the maximum travel facility based on your circumstances, ensuring flexibility in your travel plans.

While there's no limit to the number of Resident Return visas you can apply for, keep in mind the associated costs and processing times. Additionally, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to appeal a decision regarding your visa application, you can seek recourse through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

So, whether you're planning a short trip or intending to stay in Australia indefinitely, maintaining your permanent resident status is essential. With the Resident Return visa, you can confidently travel to and from Australia, knowing that your status as a permanent resident is secured.

Eligibility criteria for the 155 and 157 return resident visa

Benefits of the 155 and 157 return resident visa

  • Ensures continuity of permanent residence status for individuals who have spent significant time outside Australia.
  • Provides flexibility in travel arrangements and facilitates re-entry into Australia as a permanent resident.
  • Allows holders to maintain ties to Australia, including ongoing residency, familial connections, employment opportunities, or cultural affiliations.
  • Offers varying lengths of travel validity to accommodate different circumstances, ensuring individuals can meet personal or professional obligations while maintaining their permanent resident status.

Return resident visa checklist

Documents Required for Resident Return Visa Application:

  • Pages of current passport showing photo, personal details, and expiry dates
  • National identity card (if applicable)
  • Proof of name change documents (e.g., marriage certificate)
  • Pages of old expired passport(s) with evidence of permanent residency
  • Certificate of Evidence of Resident Status (if applicable)
  • Any previous permanent visa documentation
  • Statement demonstrating substantial ties and benefits to Australia
  • Documents proving business ties, employment history, cultural associations, or personal ties
  • Documents showing compelling reasons for absences from Australia
  • Documents supporting reasons for extended absences, such as medical treatment, legal proceedings, or natural disasters
  • Marriage certificate (for married couples)
  • Evidence of de facto relationship or marriage registration (if applicable)
  • Birth certificates or adoption papers for children under 18 years old
  • Police certificate (if requested)
  • Form 956A or Form 956 for appointing an authorised recipient or migration agent, respectively
  • Translated copies of all non-English documents into English
  • Details of translator's full name, address, qualifications, and experience
  • All documents should be scanned or photographed in colour, ensuring clarity
  • Each document, including translations, should be saved as one file

Ensure all documents are accurate, complete, and provided as per the requirements to avoid delays in processing your application.

How the 155 and 157 return resident visa’s work

The Resident Return Visas (RRVs) subclass 155 and 157 offer returning residents varying lengths of travel validity to facilitate their re-entry into Australia. The subclass 155 visa provides a travel facility of up to five years from the date of grant, allowing holders to undertake all activities permissible under their original permanent visa. This includes former Australian permanent residents who wish to re-enter Australia after residing outside of the country. Conversely, the subclass 157 visa offers a shorter travel facility of three months from the date of grant, suitable for individuals with recent permanent visas or strong ties with Australia.

Eligibility for each visa depends on factors such as the applicant's last permanent visa, ties to Australia, and compelling reasons for absence. To apply, applicants must have a valid passport and complete the online application form, ensuring accurate documentation of their substantial ties to Australia, whether through cultural, business, or family connections.

Additionally, applicants may need to pay a resident return visa fee, and they should be aware of the visa expiry date to plan their re-entry accordingly, especially if they have overseas family members or partners who are Australian citizens.

Benefits of using a migration lawyer

Engaging an Australian Migration Lawyer can simplify the journey to obtaining a Resident Return Visa. We offer experienced guidance in navigating migration laws, ensuring compliance with passport requirements, and providing tailored advice on visa eligibility. Our proactive strategies help individuals overcome challenges related to their ties with Australia, whether it's demonstrating substantial ties or addressing issues with their previous visa status. From start to finish, partnering with a lawyer provides peace of mind and confidence in the Resident Return Visa application process, especially for former Australian permanent residents seeking to re-enter Australia after residing outside of the country.

Return resident visa costs

Applying for a Resident Return Visa entails specific fees:

It costs:

  • AUD465.00 to apply online and 
  • AUD545 to apply on paper.

Understanding these costs is crucial in planning your application and ensuring a smooth process from start to finish.

Visa application process

Applying for a visa to Australia can be complex. With help from an Australian Migration Lawyer, we can untangle this complexity, and help you apply for the right visa.

1. Consultation and engagement

2. Preparation and support

3. Submission and communication

4. Representation and success

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Return resident visa processing times

The processing times for Resident Return visas are subject to change, but the most up-to-date information currently available is as follows:

  • For the Three Month Resident Return Visa (subclass 157), 50% of applications are processed in approximately 32 days, while 90% are processed in around 86 days.
  • For the Five Year Resident Return Visa (subclass 155), 50% of applications are processed in less than 1 day, while 90% are processed within approximately 19 days.

Applicants are advised to regularly check the processing time tool on the Department of Home Affairs website for the latest updates and information regarding their visa application.

Return resident visa considerations

When considering visas for re-entry into Australia, two options are available: the Five Year Resident Return Visa (subclass 155) and the Three Month Resident Return Visa (subclass 157). Your eligibility for these visas depends on various factors, including your current residency status and ties with Australia.

The 155 visa allows former Australian permanent residents and citizens, whether inside or outside of Australia, to re-enter the country for up to five years. It's also suitable for those with recent permanent visas or those who wish to remain in Australia indefinitely.

On the other hand, the 157 visa is designed for individuals who have departed Australia and need to return within three months, demonstrating compelling reasons for their absence. These reasons could include family emergencies or business commitments, supported by relevant documentation.

Whether you're a former resident, current citizen, or a visitor holding a temporary visa, understanding the requirements and demonstrating substantial ties or cultural connections is essential for a successful application process.

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Frequently asked questions

Read our most frequently asked questions about Global Talent visas

What is the difference between return resident visas 155 and 157?

The difference between the return resident visas, subclass 155 and subclass 157, lies primarily in the duration of the travel facility they offer. The subclass 155 visa provides a longer-term solution, allowing former Australian permanent residents or citizens to maintain their ties with Australia indefinitely by re-entering multiple times over a period of five years. This visa is particularly beneficial for individuals with substantial ties to Australia or those who hold recent permanent visas. 

Conversely, the subclass 157 visa offers a shorter travel facility, allowing re-entry into Australia for a period of three months. This visa is suitable for individuals who may have departed Australia temporarily for compelling and compassionate reasons and need to return within a shorter time frame. Whether one opts for the longer-term flexibility of the subclass 155 or the shorter-term solution of the subclass 157 depends on their individual circumstances and travel needs, including their cultural ties, overseas family members, or Australian citizen partners.

How long does it take to get a return resident visa in Australia?

Processing times for Resident Return visas are dynamic, subject to fluctuations, but the current data available showcases the following estimations: For the Three Month Resident Return Visa (subclass 157), roughly 50% of applications undergo processing in approximately 32 days, with 90% processed within an average of 86 days. Conversely, for the Five Year Resident Return Visa (subclass 155), about half of the applications are processed in less than one day, while 90% are typically finalised within approximately 19 days. It is crucial for applicants to remain informed by regularly checking the processing time tool provided on the Department of Home Affairs website, ensuring access to the most recent updates and insights concerning their visa application status.

How many times can I apply for a return resident visa in Australia?

In Australia, there is no limit on the number of times you can apply for a Return Resident Visa (subclass 155 or 157). However, it's essential to meet the eligibility criteria each time you apply, including residency requirements and demonstrating substantial ties to Australia or compelling reasons for absence. Keep in mind that each application incurs a fee, and processing times may vary. It's advisable to assess your circumstances carefully and ensure that you meet the necessary criteria before submitting an application. 

Whether you are a former Australian permanent resident, an Australian citizen, or hold recent permanent visa status, you can apply for the return resident visa as needed. Additionally, if you have recently departed Australia or have an Australian citizen partner, you must provide compelling and compassionate reasons for your absence when applying. This visa is crucial for individuals with cultural ties or those frequently travelling overseas, as it allows them to maintain their connection with Australia.

About the content author

Perry Q Wood
Partner - Principal Migration Lawyer

Perry Q Wood is National President of the Australian Institute of Administrative Law and one of Australia’s leading administrative and migration lawyers. To date, he has been involved in 1,000+ migration and refugee matters.

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