Department’s current processing times (updated 22 June 2018)
The Department’s processing time for the 155/157 Resident Return visa increased significantly in around early 2018. The Department’s current processing times are approximately:
5 years 155 visa: 3-10 days from the date of lodgement
1 year 155 visa: 3-5 months or potentially longer depending on the complexity of your application
3 month 157 visa: 3-6 months or potentially longer depending on the complexity of your application
Please note that the above information is only providing estimated processing time information based on our recent experience, and actual processing times will vary for each individual application. Generally speaking, more complicated applications which may have issues satisfying the relevant legal requirements may take the Department longer to assess and decide.
However, we have also had a few instances where the Department has taken 4-5 months or longer to decide and approve straight forward 1 year 155 visa applications. Hence, the Department’s long processing time for your application does not necessarily mean that the Department has any issues with your application.
Please also see the Department’s website in relation to current processing time information:
|Stream||75 per cent of applications processed||90 per cent of applications processed|
|155||5 days||12 days|
|157||Unavailable due to low volume of applications.||Unavailable due to low volume of applications.|
Last updated 19 June 2018 (for month ending 31 May 2018)
Applications that do not meet the residence requirement will take longer to finalise than the published processing times advertised above. Processing timeframes for these applications can be up to 12 weeks.
Following-up with the Department post-lodgement
You can follow-up with the Department if you want an update in relation to your application. We generally suggest that after you have lodged your visa application, you should wait at least 2 months before following up with the Department for an update if you are applying for either the 1 year or 3 month visas.
You can send a follow-up email to the Department (firstname.lastname@example.org), or you can call the Department.
In relation to email follow-ups, unfortunately the Department will generally only send generic responses in reply:
Unfortunately, the Department is unlikely to provide a detailed update in relation to the processing and assessment of your application.
You can ask for priority processing if you can provide supporting evidence to show an urgent need for the visa. The following are examples where you may be able to request priority processing:
- Medical records to show that you need to provide urgent care to a family member.
- Death certificate which demonstrates that you need to travel to attend a funeral.
Inside of Australia when you lodged your visa application but need to leave Australia
If you were in Australia when you lodged your Resident return visa application, then you can be in or outside of Australia at the time that the Department decides your application. You can travel overseas while your application is being decided, and your visa application can be decided after you leave and while you are outside of Australia.
You can apply for Bridging visa A and Bridging visa B while you are in Australia, which are linked to your pending Resident return visa application. If you are granted a Bridging visa B, then this Bridging visa B allows you to leave Australia and return as a Bridging visa B, and wait in Australia until your Resident return visa application. To apply for a Bridging visa B, you must firstly be granted a Bridging visa A, which is why you are lodging applications for both bridging visas. You can lodge your Bridging visa A and Bridging visa B applications at the same time (please see forms for application instructions). The Department’s processing time for these applications is generally around 2-3 weeks.
Please note that while you are in Australia as a Bridging visa B, you would be a temporarily visa holder in Australia while you are granted your permanent residency Resident return visa application.
Outside of Australia when you lodged your visa application but need to entry Australia
A visitor visa holder needs to have the genuine intention to only be in Australia on a temporary basis. Your currently pending permanent residency application indicates that you may want to live in Australia permanently. If you are granted a visitor visa and travel to Australia on this, then the Department’s airport staff may question your travel intentions.
If you were outside of Australia when you lodged your 155 visa application, then you also need to be outside of Australia at the time of decision. You may need to re-lodge your application if you enter Australia. You may want to follow-up with the Department instead.
If you accidentally return to Australia without a visa after your permanent residency visa has expired (after a brief trip overseas for example), then you will need to speak with the Department’s staff at the airport. They will likely grant you a “entry permit” (Border Visa), which would only be a temporary visa. You can enter Australia and lodge a Resident visa application, and then a Bridging visa A application to allow you to stay in Australia until the Department decides your Resident return visa application.
The Department may decide your application based on the information and documents that you have provided, in which case you would just receive either an approval or refusal decision. Hence, it is important to upload all your relevant documents which demonstrate that you satisfy the relevant requirements for the Resident Return visa.
The Department may also contact you and inform you that further information and/or documents are required before a decision can be made. The Department’s correspondence will confirm the deadline by which you need to respond. If you are in Australia, then generally speaking, you are given 28 days to provide the requested information and/or documents.
Please have particular attention to the date by which you need to respond to any Department request. If you need more time to collect the requested information and/or documents, then you should send a request asking for this extension at least 3-4 working days before the deadline by which you need to respond. Your case officer should grant this extension, which will generally give you another 2-4 weeks to provide the requested information and/or documents. However, whether you are granted an extension is still at the discretion of your case officer, who can deny your request.
Once you have collected all the relevant information and documents required in response to the Department’s request checklist, you can upload your new information and documents to your application via your Immiaccount. You can then use the ‘I confirm I have provided information as requested’ link to inform the Department that you have responded to their request. Once you have used this link in your Immiaccount, you do not need to take any further action, send emails or call to inform the Department.
If required, we generally suggest preparing your own statement to accompany the information and documents that you upload, in which you should explain to your case officer the ties and/or compelling reasons that you are demonstrating with the information and documents that you are uploading. This should help your case officer understand how and why you satisfy the relevant legal requirements, rather than just leaving it to the case officer to assess and interpret your documents and information.
We can assist with preparing a response to a Department request that you have received for further information and/or documents required for your currently pending application. Please see information in relation to our Professional Services.
Once the Department has received your response to an earlier Department request, you should receive a decision in around 2-6 weeks (or potentially longer depending on the complexity of your application). However, there is no set timeframe by which the Department needs to make a decision. The Department can certainly take more than 2-6 weeks to make a decision, especially if it is a complicated application.
If the Department approves your application, then congratulations! Your new 3 month, 1 year or 5 years visa will replace whatever visa that you were holding (i.e. your new Resident return visa is not added to your current visa).
If the Department unfortunately refuses your 155 or 157 visa application, then we may be able to assist with appealing to the Tribunal and/or preparing and lodging a new application with the Department, with updated and new additional documents and information which was previously not provided to the Department.