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Resident Return Visa (RRV)

The Resident Return Visa (RRV) allows a current or former Australian permanent resident, or former Australian citizen, to travel overseas. Australian citizens have a standard right to enter Australia, but any non-citizen travelling abroad must have a visa to return to the country. An RRV allows a person to travel to and from Australia until the “travel facility” of the visa expires. An RRV can be either a subclass 157 visa (3 months), or a subclass 155 visa (1 year or 5 years). There is no limit to the number of RRVs a person can have.

RRV eligibility

To be eligible for the RRV, a person must be:

  • an Australian permanent resident;
  • a former Australian permanent resident whose last permanent visa was not cancelled;
  • a former Australian citizen who lost or resigned their citizenship (such as someone who became a national of a country that did not allow dual citizenship).

Permanent residents can travel abroad and return to Australia freely under their residency visa for up to 5 years from the date the visa was granted. An RRV is needed after that time. If a permanent resident leaves Australia after their permanent visa residency has expired, or it expires while they are outside Australia, they will not be able to return as a permanent resident unless they have an RRV.

Family members cannot be included in an RRV application.

Residence requirement

If a person has lived in Australia for a total of 2 years in the past 5 years as a permanent resident or Australian citizen, they meet the “residence requirement” and can be granted a 5-year travel facility on their RRV.

In calculating the requirement, the 2-year period is considered 730 days, and the 5-year period is counted back from the date the RRV application was lodged.

Substantial ties requirement

If a person has not met the residence requirement but can show “substantial ties”  with Australia that benefit the country, they can be granted a travel facility of up to 1 year. The person must not have been absent for 5 continuous years since the grant of the most recent permanent visa or loss of Australian citizenship.

If the person is outside Australia when they apply:

  • they must not have been absent from the country for 5 continuous years or more, and hold a permanent visa or have left the country as a permanent resident or citizen; or
  • they must not have been absent from the country for periods that equal 5 years between leaving Australia as a permanent resident or citizen and applying; and been a permanent resident or citizen for less than 10 years before applying.

If a person applies as a member of a family unit of a person who has an RRV, or has applied for a separate RRV, they can be granted a travel facility of up to 1 year.

If a person does not fit in any of those categories but has compelling and compassionate reasons for leaving, they can be granted a 3-month travel facility.

Any remaining travel facility on a visa does not transfer to the next visa. Some permanent via holders are sent a Travel Facility Expiry Reminder. Visa holders can check their travel facility status on the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system.

The substantial ties can include business, cultural, employment and personal ties.

Character requirement

All visa applicants must meet the character test to be granted a visa. Section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 lists the reasons a person may not pass the character test. Examples include where the person:

No cancellations

An RRV application may be refused if the applicant has had a visa cancelled or a previous application refused.

RRV processing

As at May 2021, an online application was $405 and a paper application was $485. There may be other costs if checks such as health checks, police certificates and biometrics testing are required.

Applications that meet the residence requirement are generally processed within 5 working days of lodgement. For subclass 155 visas, 75% of applications are processed within 9 days, and 90% within 3 months. For subclass 157 visas, 90% of applications are processed within 4 months.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

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