Current processing times (updated 22 April 2019)

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: 2-4 months or potentially longer depending on the complexity of your application

3 month 157 visa: 2-4 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:

Stream75 per cent of applications processed90 per cent of applications processed
1552 days​67 days
157​​Unavailable due to low volume of applications.​​Unavailable due to low volume of applications.

Following-up after lodgement

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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 (residentsreturn@homeaffairs.gov.au), 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 and need to leave

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 and need to entry

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.

Department’s assessment & decision

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.

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 refuses your Resident return visa application, then you may still have a few options with getting a Resident return visa, or another future permanent residency visa:

  • You can prepare and lodge a new Resident return visa application, with updated and additional documents and information which was previously not provided to the Department. When the Department refuses your Resident return visa application because of insufficient ties with Australia and/or insufficient compelling reasons for your absence from Australia, then this is just the Department’s current assessment of your application and circumstances. The Department’s refusal doesn’t prevent you from re-lodging a new Resident return visa (or apply for a temporary visa to travel to Australia as well). The Department’s refusal letter and correspondence shouldn’t contain any information in relation to future adverse consequences because of the Department’s refusal, if the Department just refused your visa application because of insufficient ties with Australia and/or insufficient compelling reasons. This means that you can re-lodge in the future once you have formed stronger ties with Australia, such as by travelling to Australia as a visitor visa holder, forming ties with Australia after your arrival (e.g. lease for residence, apply for jobs in your profession, sign up for utility services etc.), and then lodging your Resident return visa on the basis of your current settlement in Australia, and intention to live in Australia on a long term and permanent basis as your tie with Australia. This is assuming that you hold a visitor visa that does not have a no further stay conditionYou can also collect new and additional evidence of your compelling reasons for absence from Australia, or perhaps prepare a better and more convincing supporting statement and explanation for your application, and then re-lodge a new Resident return visa if this was the issue that caused your visa refusal.
  • You can potentially appeal the refusal decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, if the Department’s refusal is a Tribunal review-able decision as explained below. The AAT will re-assess your application and decide if you satisfy the relevant requirements for either a 155 or 157 visa. While you are allowed to organise and provide the AAT with new additional documents and information which was not provided to the Department, you should note that in terms of the substantial ties with Australia requirement, you can only rely on your ties with Australia as they existed when you lodged your visa application. This is because having sufficient ties with Australia is a ‘Criteria to be satisfied at time of application’, which technically means that you can’t rely on further ties that you form after the lodgement of your visa application (which would include the Department and Tribunal’s processing times). One advantage with re-lodging a new 155/157 visa application with the Department, as an alternative to appealing to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, are avoiding the Tribunal’s long wait times for a hearing, and also the high cost of appealing to the Tribunal (although this cost may be inevitable if the Department again refuses your application).
  • If you are not eligible for the Resident return visa, then you can consider lodging a whole new permanent residency visa application like the initial permanent residency visa that you received. Your prior permanent residency status and refusal of Resident return visa shouldn’t affect your visa eligibility if you decide to apply for another general skilled migration visa or employer sponsored permanent residency visa. The Department won’t question you in relation to why you didn’t previously settle in Australia.

In Australia at the time of visa application

You are eligible for review of your refusal decision by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal if you were in Australia at the time that you lodged the visa application.

It is important to note that there is a strict time limit by which you need to submit your Administrative Appeals Tribunal application. It is important that you carefully read the Department’s correspondence which will state the date by which you need to submit your application for review. The Tribunal cannot accept an application for review that is submitted outside of the allowed time frame. This is very strictly enforced.

After you have lodged your Tribunal appeal application, you can apply for a Bridging visa A if needed in order to remain in Australia while you wait for a tribunal hearing (this is not needed if you are in Australia as a permanent resident. You may need to apply for a Bridging visa if you are in Australia as a temporary visa holder which is going to expire):

Bridging visa A information

Bridging visa A form

If needed, then this bridging visa will allow you to lawfully remain in Australia until the Tribunal makes a decision in relation to your appeal.

Outside of Australia at the time of visa application

If you were outside of Australia at the time that you lodged the visa application, and the Department refuses your Resident return visa application, then you can appeal this decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal if you have a parent, spouse or de facto partner, child or sibling who is an Australian citizen or holds a current Australian permanent residency visa. This family member does not need to be living in Australia, but this person must be an Australian citizen or holds a current Australian permanent residency visa.

If the above does not apply to you, then unfortunately you cannot apply for review with the tribunal or with any court. The Department also cannot review this decision. The Department should send you email correspondence which contains the following documents:

  1. Letter confirming that your visa application has been refused. This letter will also confirm that this decision cannot be reviewed.
  2. Decision record which explains why your case officer refused your visa application.

After such a refusal, your options would be to either:

  1. Prepare another Resident return visa application, providing further reasons and supporting evidence to explain your absence from Australia if such reasons and supporting evidence were not provided in your prior application;
  2. Apply for a different type of Australian permanent residency visa (like your first initial permanent residency visa).

We have had success helping numerous clients prepare and lodge new 155/157 visa applications after a Department refusal decision. We can assess the Department’s reasons for refusing your application, and let you know if the following or other steps can help with and whether we can proceed with lodging a new 155/157 visa application:

  • Collect additional documents which were not previously provided to the Department
  • Form more ties with Australia before re-applying
  • Prepare statement which properly explains your ties with Australia and/or compelling reasons for being absent from Australia, which the Department may not have understood just from assessing your prior application and documents
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Mick Gillies

Hi,
am finding it impossible to locate a valid link where I can fill out and pay online my Application for a Resident Return visa (RRV) form 1085. Can anyone send me the link

albert

Hi Peng,it has been over 13weeks since I lodged my rrv application in this April.I don’t meet the 2-year residency requirement and currently is staying offshore.Can you please advise if there are any other ways to ask to speed up the process,other than via email which always reply with auto reply?thank you .

Francisco

Hi Irene, My last RRV expired in 18 May 2018. I submitted a new application 23 April 2018. I need to travel urgently, but I am afraid that if I leave without having a valid RRV I might put my residency status in jeopardy.

Did you leave Australia while holding a valid RRV (even if it expired while you were abroad)?

Rie

Hi Peng, My resident return visa has been granted but the name of the visa stated with my previous family name not the current family name. When I check the passport detail in the immigration online account, it has the current family name but the name on the visa has the previous name. Can you please tell me how I can update my name on the visa?

Monica Frigillana

Hi Peng,
I submitted my application for RRV last 20 June 2018. This is my third application for RRV. In my previous application for RRV, the visa was granted within a span of 10 to 12 days. My question – Do i need to attach the Form 1085? In my previous application online, I did not attach Form 1085 and my visa was granted quickly. Also, if i attached Citizenship papers of my family members living in Australia, do i still need to attach their Australian passports?
Monica

Eashwar

Dear Peng,

When calculating for the residence requirement of staying for 730 days in the most recent 5 years, do the days that I enter and leave Australia count, so my question is whether partial days would count as a day.

When they say 90% of applications are processed within 12 days, they mean 12 business days or just 12 days?

Thank you very much.

Shaz

Hi Peng – As a PR, I work full time and reside in Sydney. My PR recently expired. I have applied and await a decision on RRV but I need to travel for work. My questions: 1) Through ImmiAccount, I can’t apply for BVA/B – will they accept both applications simultaneously over the counter [I am in Sydney so at the Lee St office?] 2) Can I use “travel for work” as a substantial reason or is it wiser to put something else? 3) Once I’m back on BVB, will time on this visa hamper my citizenship appln?

Adeline

Hey Shaz, did you end up applying for the BVA and BVB? And have you heard back from them? Thanks!

Richard Bonnar

Hi Peng, I applied for RRV on 14th June. The application should be straightforward as I have lived in Australia for 4 years and am employed full time. However, it has not yet been approved I left Australia on 24th June and I am due to fly back on July 6th. Could I please confirm what my options are:
1) Return without RRV approved – what will happen? Will I be denied entry?
2) Return with a tourist visa – is this an option, or will it considered as scamming the system?
Thanks
Richard

Eashwar

Hi Richard, I’m in a similar situation to you, could you email me at s4435560@student.uq.edu.au so we could discuss our situation, thanks.

Tony

Dear Peng, my current RRV expired right now, and I have applied the new RRV one month ago, due to the 12 weeks processing time, I have to travel overseas this week for couple of months, if I leave Australia, can I still get my application approved? If they refuse to give me the new rrv, can you help me apply a new 155 or157 to help me back to Australia?

Tamryn Peters

Hi Peng

I applied for my RRV on 24th April. I have a family reunion which started last week so I’d like to join before it’s over on the 11th July.

Can you help me with the bridging visas?

Thanks
Tamryn

Tony

Dear Peng, could you share us the latest approved RRV application date? Thank you, I applied RRV on 26/05, and I heared someon who applied on 14/05 been approved on 16/06. Thanks, your infroamtion are very useful 🙂

YIJUN CHEN

Hi Peng,

I applied for onshore 1-year RRV before it expired in June, it has already been 1 month, but still no response at all. Could you answer me two questions
1. My wife was already approved for a 5-year RRV because she is qualified. Is that information helpful to speed up the process? We applied for RRV in spilit, will IMMI be aware of this? Should I specify this information anywhere?
2. Am I qulified to apply for Bridging A and B? I want to travel out of Australia for one week in July.

Leong Khee Khien

Hi Peng

We are PR (myself, spouse and 1 child) and are planning to migrate to Australia. We have a 2nd child who is not a PR. Can we travel to Australia as 1 family?

Do we need to apply for a tourist visa for our 2nd child and then upon arriving in Australia then we apply for Child Visa?
Say if we are in Australia already but then PR for our 2nd child has not been granted yet but we would like to have a short trip outside Australia (e.g. holiday), is that possible?

Thanks
Leong

Marie

Hi Mr Peng, I’m in a similar situation as Stephanie. I lodged RRV extensions for my daughter and I on 16 May. Our visas expired on 29 May and we need to leave Australia on 30 June. I called the hotline a number of times and was informed that I cannot apply for the bridging visas – contrary to your advice here. I also could not apply for them in my IMMI account. Can bridging visas be fast-tracked in time for our travel? Or can I apply for an ETA when I am overseas and return with it?
Thank you.

Christina

Mr. Peng,

My husband who has fulfilled the two year stay in Australia has renewed his 155 return visa for 5 years. He is currently residing and working in Australia. Myself is still staying overseas with our two teenagers children pending them completing high school before moving to Australia.

Would appreciate your advice on how to renew our 1 year 155 return visa based on the family ties with my husband.

Thanks you

Regards,
Chris

Joy

Hi Mr Peng,
I called home affairs after my lodgment of RRV when I was still onshore, however, only got answer that I was not eligible for BVA/BVB. The operator didn’t provide detailed reason, but only said that I can’t do that. I also checked IMMI account, and could not find the appropriate way to actually initiate an application for BVA/BVB either. So just wish to learn, if you do have any clients able to get BVA/BVB while waiting for their RRV assessment?
Many thanks!

Rari

I applied for RRV offshore on June 3rd, I have no response, not even a request for information. My PR expired in Oct 2013, I have compelling reasons for not being in Australia for so long – failing health/passing away of a relative, 2 pregnancies and 2 child births, I have explained all in my application. I have enclosed Death Certificate, Birth certificates, Police clearance, marriage certificate. I also have a brother who is an Australian citizen. Is this regarded as a complicated case?

Stephanie

Hi Mr. Pheng. I have lodged my RRV extension on the 7th June, my visa expired on the 6th June. It was a 1 year RRV and this is my 3rd year applying for extension. Every year my visa application was approved within 2-3 days. This time it has been 2 weeks and not yet approved. I have to leave australia on the 5th of July, will it be possible to apply a Bridging Visa for when i leave the country if my RRV approval is not yet out? Thank you

Sonny Tan

My Visa 155 expired on 8 May 2018. I file for RRV in Malaysia on 14 Apr 2018 and came to Australia on 30 Apr 2018 to wait for tge approval. I have waited more than 8 weeks.
Based on some previous discussions, you mentioned that I must be out of the country during the approval if I am out if the country when submitting tge application. Do I need to withdraw the first application and reapply from inside Australia as I am still in Australia.
Thank you,
Sonny

Bernie

Hi, I applied for 155 visa in May in Australia (I live in Australia but won’t have spent 2 years by the time the travel arrangements expire in October). As the processing time is much longer than I anticipated I plan to come back to Australia from my holiday overseas before the expiry date. If the current visa says “must not arrive after 1 October” can I still arrive ON 1 October? Or should I arrive on 30 September at the latest? Thank you.

Freddie

I applied for RRV on 20 May online when I was in Australia. I have departed Australia and my RRV has since expired. I need to travel to Australia this week but my application has not been approved yet. Can I enter using tourist visa and more importantly, will that jeopardize my application which has not been reviewed. Appreciate some advice thank you.