In order to apply for a Resident return visa, you must be either:

 

  1. A current Australian permanent residency visa holder
  2. A former Australian citizen who has lost or renounced Australian citizenship
  3. A former Australian permanent resident, other than a former Australian permanent resident whose most recent permanent visa was cancelled

 

The key eligibility requirements for the 155 and 157 Resident Return visas are outlined below:

 

  • 155 visa which is valid for 5 years – in the last 5 years that precedes the lodgement of your Resident Return Visa application, you have been in Australia as a permanent resident for at least 2 years out of the 5. You must satisfy this requirement to obtain a 155 Resident Return Visa that is valid for 5 years and there are no exemptions to satisfying this requirement

 

  • 155 visa which is valid for 1 year – you have been in Australia for at least 1 day in the last 5 years as the holder of a permanent residency visa and you have substantial, business, cultural, employment and/or personal ties to Australia which are of benefit to Australia

 

  • 155 visa which is valid for 1 year – since the grant of your last permanent residency visa, you have been absent from Australia for a period of 5 years or more and there are compelling reasons for your absence and you have substantial, business, cultural, employment and/or personal ties to Australia which are of benefit to Australia

 

  • 157 visa which is valid for 3 months – if you are outside of Australia, then you have been in Australia for at least 1 day in the last 5 years as the holder of a permanent residency visa, and you have compelling reasons that caused your last departure from Australia. Also, if you have been outside of Australia for more than three continuous months immediately before lodging your application, then you need to demonstrate compelling reasons for your current/recent absence from Australia. If you are in Australia and need to travel, then you need to demonstrate compelling and compassionate reasons for having to leave Australia

 

International travel with your initial permanent residency visa

 

Generally speaking, once you are granted an Australian permanent residency visa, this visa will allow you to travel in and out of Australia for a period of 5 years from the date of grant. This is referred to as your ‘international travel facility’. This does not mean that you are only allowed to lawfully remain in Australia for 5 years. As a permanent resident, you are allowed to lawfully remain in Australia indefinitely as a permanent resident as long as you arrive in Australia before your current permanent residency visa expires.

 

Kasturi_155

 

Resident return visa – 5 years

 

In order to obtain a 5 year 155 visa, you must live in Australia as a permanent resident for at least 2 years out of the 5 years that precedes the lodgement of your Resident return visa application.

 

Two years is defined as 730 days in total. You do not have to complete two consecutive years of residence in Australia. You can accumulate the required two years over the 5 year period that precedes the lodgement of your application.

 

You can only count the time that you have spent in Australia as a permanent resident or Australian citizen (i.e. you cannot count any time that you held a temporary visa or a bridging visa towards the 2 years). You can count both your date of arrival and departure from Australia, assuming that these dates are different days.

 

You must satisfy the above requirement in order to obtain a 155 Resident Return visa that is valid for 5 years. There are no exemptions that will get you around satisfying this requirement.

 

If you do satisfy this requirement, then you can apply for your Resident Return Visa online. You can lodge your application while you are inside of Australia, or outside of Australia. The process should be pretty straight forward, and the Department should be able to grant the visa within days or weeks of lodgement.

 

If you need to find out the number of days that you have been in Australia, then you can request this information from the Department by completing the Request for international movement records form and emailing or posting this form to the Department as per this form’s instructions.

 

Resident return visa – 1 year

 

If you are in Australia when you lodge your Resident return visa application, then you need to satisfy the following requirements:

 

  1. You have substantial, business, cultural, employment and/or personal ties to Australia which are of benefit to Australia
  2. You have not been absent from Australia for a continuous period of 5 years or more since the grant of your last permanent residency visa, or you will need to demonstrate compelling reasons for your absence

 

If you are outside of Australia when you lodge your Resident return visa application, then you need to satisfy the following requirements:

 

  1. Your current permanent residency visa is still valid, or the last time that you departed from Australia, you departed as a permanent residency visa holder or Australian citizen
  2. You have substantial, business, cultural, employment and/or personal ties to Australia which are of benefit to Australia
  3. You have not been absent from Australia for a continuous period of 5 years or more since you last departed from Australia as a permanent residency visa holder or Australian citizen, or you will need to demonstrate compelling reasons for your absence

 

If you are outside of Australia when you lodge your Resident return visa application, and when you last left Australia, you did not hold a permanent residency visa or Australian citizenship (i.e. last departed Australia as a temporary visa holder), then you need to satisfy the following requirements:

 

  1. Your were an Australian permanent residency visa holder or Australian citizen sometime in the last 10 years before the date of lodgement of your Resident return visa application
  2. You have substantial, business, cultural, employment and/or personal ties to Australia which are of benefit to Australia
  3. You have not been absent from Australia for a total period of 5 years or more since you last departed from Australia as a permanent residency visa holder or Australian citizen, or you will need to demonstrate compelling reasons for your absence

 

Documents checklist

 

After you pay and lodge your online Resident return 155/157 visa application, you then need to use your Immiaccount to upload relevant documents to your application. The Department’s Immiaccount will accept these file typesThe maximum size for each attachment is 5MB. You will need to upload clear scanned copies for all supporting documents. You do not need to provide certified or notarised copies unless the case officer specifically asks for this which is generally rare.

 

Generally speaking, you do not need to provide police clearances (unless you have any character issues such as prior criminal conviction/s) or complete a health examination for this visa application.

 

Depending on your application and circumstances, you will need to upload the following documents to your visa application (and also the visa applications for your family members if applicable):

 

155 visa – 5 years visa

 

  • Passport for visa applicant (generally speaking, you do not need to provide any other documents if you have lived in Australia for at least 2 years in the last 5 years before the lodgement of your Resident return visa application, which would entitle you to a 5 year visa)

 

155 visa – 1 year visa

 

  • Passport for visa applicant
  • Documents demonstrating your substantial ties with Australia, such as:

 

Relevant tie Supporting documents can include
Personal ties
  • Australian passports of family members who are living with the visa applicant
  • Marriage certificate if married with Australian citizen spouse
  • Birth certificates for Australian citizen children
  • School/university/other education enrolment evidence for your child or children’s education in Australia
  • Property/assets/land titles etc. demonstrating your asset ownership in Australia
  • Lease or property ownership evidence for current residence in Australia
Employment ties
  • Letter of appointment and/or employment contract
  • Payslips for current work in Australia
  • Tax records for current work in Australia
  • Payslips if assigned to work temporarily overseas by an Australian business entity
Business ties
  • Annual financial reports
  • Business transaction documents such as invoices, receipts etc.
  • Bank statements
  • Contracts obtained or awarded
  • Business, superannuation and/or personal records –e.g. payroll tax, PAYG summaries
Cultural ties
  • Publications
  • Newspaper articles
  • Programs from concerts, events, exhibitions etc., demonstrating your arts, sports or other cultural contributions to Australia

 

  • If you need to demonstrate compelling reasons for your absence from Australia for a period of 5 years or more, then relevant documents in relation to this requirement, such as:
    • Medical records to demonstrate your need to care for a family member outside of Australia
    • Court and/or legal documents to demonstrate that you have been involved in on-going legal affairs/disputes outside of Australia
    • Demonstrate that you have been living outside of Australia with your Australian citizen partner, and your Australian citizen child or children if applicable
  • We also suggest preparing your own statement in which you outline your ties to Australia (and compelling reasons for absence if applicable). You can refer the Department to relevant supporting documents which demonstrate the circumstances and claims outlined in your statement. This will help the Department understand your application, circumstances and documents, and may help avoid the situation where the Department is misunderstanding or misinterpreting your application and documents

 

Miriam_155

 

Substantial ties requirement

 

You can show substantial ties by having business, cultural, employment and/or personal ties. The Department’s policy does recognise that the longer that you have been away from Australia, the more difficult it may be for you to establish ‘substantial ties’. The Department’s policy guidelines stateIn general, it becomes increasingly difficult to demonstrate substantial ties of benefit over extended periods of absence. This is in part because the longer the period of absence the more difficult it is to continue to maintain ties of sufficient import to be considered ‘substantial’.

 

Generally speaking, if you were in Australia when you lodged your Resident Return visa, and you are settled in Australia on a long term and permanent basis, then your on-going residence and intention to stay in Australia should be sufficient for you to satisfy the requirements for a 1 year visa. Such an application should be straight forward for the Department to assess, as you just need to upload documents to demonstrate your (and your family if applicable) on-going residence and settlement in Australia such as your lease or property ownership certificate, invoices/receipts for household utility expenses, payslips for your work if applicable, bank statements etc.

 

Employment ties

 

If you have an employment opportunity in Australia, then you may be able to establish ‘substantial ties’ on this basis. The nature of the work is a relevant consideration (i.e. is it permanent, temporary or contract? Is it full-time, part-time or casual?). The Department’s policy guidelines state that ‘casual work would not normally be considered to be a substantial tie unless the applicant had been living in Australia for a significant period in the last 2 years’.

 

The Department can consider the following in assessing whether your employment ties are of benefit to Australia:

 

  1. Whether the role aligns with your qualifications and experience
  2. Whether the role is due to commence immediately
  3. Whether you can demonstrate an intention to stay in Australia for the long term by providing evidence such as a lease agreement, or enrolling your children in school

 

The Department may also need to consider the ‘genuineness’ of your claim of employment ties (to stop people from forming fraudulent employment ties in order to apply for a Resident Return visa).

 

Personal ties

 

The Department’s policy states that allowing you to live with your family can be considered to be of benefit to Australia if there is evidence that you and your family have imminent plans to live in Australia permanently. The following examples are given:

 

  1. If your partner is an Australian citizen and you’re living with your partner outside of Australia
  2. If you’re living overseas with your family and your family includes children (or a child) who are under 18 and are Australian citizens, and you provide evidence to show that you have immediate plans to return to Australia
  3. If you are an Australian citizen and your child is an Australian permanent resident and you need to apply for a Resident Return Visa for your child

 

Other basis for personal ties that are mentioned in the Department’s policy include:

 

  1. If you have a history of long term residence in Australia prior to the last 5 years, particularly if you have spent your formative years in Australia or has spent a significant amount of time in Australia since first being granted a permanent visa. The longer that you’ve been in Australia since you were granted permanent residency, the more weight is placed on this factor
  2. Personal assets in Australia such as a family home or investment property. However, whether this personal tie is of benefit to Australia is dependent on whether it is occupied, for example, by a close family member or actively being rented
  1. Having family members (e.g. your partner and/or child or children) who are Australian citizens or permanent residents and these family members have substantial residence in Australia

 

Business ties

 

Under the Department’s policy, the applicant needs to ‘have substantial ownership interests in a business and be involved in the management of the business, however they do not need to have physical residence in Australia. This business should be an Australian business or a branch of a business which has connections with Australia’.

 

When the Department assesses whether your business ties are of benefit to Australia, the Department can consider the following:

 

  • Your business has led to the creation of employment opportunities in Australia, or for Australian citizens or permanent residents outside of Australia
  • Whether your business generates revenue in or for Australia
  • Size of the business
  • Whether your business enhances links with other countries
  • Whether your business has resulted in the transfer of Australian knowledge and/or technologies offshore and/or evidence of introducing new technologies into Australia.

 

If you have business ties to Australia (i.e. you have substantial ownership interests in a business), then you should have a think about the benefits and relationships that your business is delivering to Australia and Australians, and whether you can evidence these benefits and relationships.

 

Cultural ties

 

Below is the Department’s policy extract in relation to what constitutes cultural ties:

 

A substantial cultural tie of benefit to Australia may exist if the applicant’s cultural pursuits are conducted at a professional level or with a degree of public recognition. Some examples of persons who may have substantial cultural ties include, but are not limited to:

 

  • A person who is accepted as a member of a cultural community within Australia who is actively involved in traditional activities
  • A person involved in the Arts at a professional level
  • Members of religious communities in Australia or
  • Sports persons or professional support staff who are members of Australian sporting associations.

 

Evidence to support a claim of cultural ties of benefit to Australia may include:

 

  • Publications
  • Contracts
  • Evidence of membership of cultural associations
  • Newspaper articles
  • Programs from concerts, etc.

 

As a general observation it is likely that the reasons claimed as cultural ties would be consistent with the basis for the grant of their original permanent visa.

 

Compelling reasons for absence from Australia

 

If you have been absent from Australia for a continuous period of 5 years or more since the grant of your last permanent residency visa, then you will need to demonstrate ‘compelling reasons’ for your absence.

 

The Department’s policy guidelines do provide examples in relation to what may constitute ‘compelling reasons’. Examples include severe illness or death of an overseas family member or been caught up in a natural disaster, political uprising or other similar event.

 

It is not always easy to demonstrate compelling reasons. Generally speaking, ‘every day’ reasons for not being in Australia such as work or study commitments are generally not considered to be ‘compelling’.

 

Satisfying your case officer that there are ‘compelling reasons’ for your absence can be difficult, and whether your case officer accepts your reasons is discretionary. Hence if you want to retain the right to travel in and out of Australia as a permanent resident, then we would strongly suggest that you try and avoid this situation where you are absent from Australia for a continuous period of 5 years or more since the grant of your permanent residency visa.

 

157 visa – 3 month visa

 

When you lodge a Resident return visa application, the Department will automatically consider and assess your eligibility for both the 155 and 157 visas, so you do not need to lodge a separate 157 visa application.

 

If you do not have sufficient substantial ties with Australia, you may still be able to apply for the 157 visa because you do not need to demonstrate substantial ties with Australia for this visa.

 

If you are outside of Australia when you lodged your application, then you must have been in Australia for at least 1 day in the last 5 years as the holder of a permanent residency visa, and you have compelling reasons that caused your last departure from Australia. Also, if you have been outside of Australia for more than three continuous months immediately before making the application, then you also need to demonstrate compelling reasons for your current/recent absence.

 

If you are in Australia and need to travel, then you need to demonstrate compelling and compassionate reasons for having to leave Australia.

 

The Department’s policy guidelines do provide examples in relation to what may constitute ‘compelling reasons’. Examples include severe illness or death of an overseas family member or been caught up in a natural disaster, political uprising or other similar event. Generally speaking, ‘every day’ reasons for not being in Australia such as work or study commitments are generally not considered to be ‘compelling’.

 

If you are granted this visa, then it is valid for a period of 3 months. This is a permanent residency visa, and you will be allowed to remain in Australia indefinitely if you return to Australia before your visa expires.

 

You can return to Australia during this 3 month period, form stronger ties with Australia and apply for the 1 year 155 visa on the basis of your residence in Australia (and work if applicable) as your substantial ties with Australia.

 

157 visa – Documents checklist

 

  • If you are in Australia when you lodged your application, then documents demonstrating your compelling reasons to need to leave Australia. Possible examples can include:
    • Attending overseas funeral, wedding or other significant event for family or close friend
    • Temporarily leaving Australia to finalise overseas affairs such as property and assets sales before returning to Australia
    • Assisting family member or friend with medical treatment overseas
  • If you are outside of Australia when you lodged your application, then documents demonstrating that you have compelling reasons that caused your last departure from Australia. Also, if you have been outside of Australia for more than three continuous months immediately before making the application, then you also need to demonstrate compelling reasons for your current/recent absence from Australia as well. Possible examples can include:
    • Medical records to demonstrate your need to care for a family member outside of Australia
    • Court and/or legal documents to demonstrate that you have been involved in on-going legal affairs/disputes outside of Australia
    • Demonstrate that you have been living outside of Australia with your Australian citizen partner, and your Australian citizen child or children if applicable
  • We also suggest preparing your own statement in which you outline your compelling reasons. You can refer the Department to relevant supporting documents which demonstrate the circumstances and claims outlined in your statement. This will help the Department understand your application, circumstances and documents, and may help avoid the situation where the Department is misunderstanding or misinterpreting your application and documents

 

Family members

 

With your first or initial permanent residency visa application, you probably included yourself and all your family members in the same visa application and form.

 

With a Resident Return visa application, each individual is required to lodge his or her own separate visa application, even for children under 18.

 

Each individual applicant and application will be assessed by the Department separately to determine if the applicant satisfies the requirements for the 5 years, 1 year or 3 month visa.

 

You do need to pay separate government lodgement fees for each individual family member and visa application.

 

If you are granted a Resident Return visa, then your partner and your dependant family members can also be granted a Resident Return visa that is valid for a maximum period of 1 year, and the period granted cannot exceed the time remaining on your current Resident Return visa. This is assuming that your family member is a current or former Australian permanent residency visa holder or citizen (like yourself), and your family member is not eligible for the 5 year 155 visa.

 

Permanent residency visa holders that are not eligible

 

Please note that you are not eligible for a Resident Return visa if your most recent permanent visa was one of the following Business Skills visas and it has been cancelled, or is subject to a notice of intention to cancel from the Department:

 

  • Subclass 130 – State or Territory Sponsored Senior Executive visa
  • Subclass 843 – State or Territory Sponsored Senior Executive visa
  • Subclass 128 – Senior Executive visa
  • Subclass 841 – Senior Executive visa
  • Subclass 129 – State or Territory Sponsored Business Owner visa
  • Subclass 842 – State or Territory Sponsored Business Owner visa
  • Subclass 840 – Business Owner visa
  • Subclass 127 – Business Owner visa
  • Subclass 132 – Business Talent visa
  • Subclass 131 – Investment Linked visa
  • Subclass 884 – Investment Linked visa

 

Online application preparation & process

 

You can apply online for the 155/157 Resident Return visa by creating an Immiaccount with the Department’s website. Once you have created your account, use the New application link (top left), and then the Resident Return visa form link:

 

155 online

 

If you have issues with lodging the online application, then you can post a paper form application instead if you wish, although the government fees will be higher for the paper form application (AUD $365.00 for online application, or AUD $445.00 for posting a paper form application).

 

Please see the Department’s PDF form and instructions for posting a Form 1085 155/157 visa application, and your relevant supporting documents, to the Department.

 

We would suggest lodging an online application if you can, since the government fees are lower and the online application form has a lot less questions then the PDF form. In terms of the Department’s processing time and post-lodgement handling of your application, these administrative steps should be similar for both online and posted applications following lodgement.

 

If you need to follow-up with the Department in relation to your 155 or 157 visa application, then you can by email or phone.

 

If you were outside of Australia when you lodged your 155/157 visa application, then you also need to be outside of Australia at the time that the Department decides your application.

 

If you were in Australia when you lodged your 155/157 visa application, then you can be in or outside of Australia at the time that the Department decides your application.

.

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 after 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 (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.

 

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 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

 

10 most common comments & questions

 

The below are the 10 most common questions and comments that I receive in relation to the Resident Return visa:

 

No. 1. : I lodged my visa application when I was outside of Australia, but I need to enter Australia. Can I enter on a visitor visa if my permanent residency visa has expired?

 

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.

 

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 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 return 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.

 

No. 2: I lodged my Resident return visa when I was outside of Australia and I returned to Australia before the Department’s decision. Can the Department decide my lodged application?

 

Unfortunately you need to be outside of Australia at the time of decision if you were outside of Australia at the time of lodgement. You would need to lodge a new Resident return visa if you want an application that the Department can decide when you are in Australia. Or the Department can finalise and decide your application when you next leave Australia.

 

Generally speaking, the Department will not communicate with you after you arrive in Australia to inform you that your pending application cannot be decided while you are in Australia.

 

No. 3: I lodged my visa application when I was inside of Australia, but I need to leave Australia. Can I leave before the Department decides my application?

 

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 holder, and wait in Australia until your Resident return visa application is decided. 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 holder, you would be a temporary visa holder in Australia until you are granted your permanent residency Resident return visa.

 

No. 4: How do I find out my number of days in Australia?

 

If you need to find out the number of days that you have been in Australia, then you can request this information from the Department by completing this Request for international movement records form and emailing or posting the Department as per this form’s instructions.

 

No. 5: How can I find out when my current permanent residency visa expires?

 

You can use the Department’s online VEVO service to check your current visa and when this expires.

 

If you are unable to use VEVO, then you will need to contact the Department for your current visa details (131 881 if you are calling from within Australia). We are a private business so we do not have this information.

 

No. 6: Can I lodged my Resident return visa application in person at a Department office?

 

As far as I am aware, the Department no longer accepts over the counter applications at their Office / Embassy / Consulate locations. You can call / contact your nearest Office / Embassy / Consulate location to confirm.

 

You can apply online for the 155/157 Resident Return visa by creating an Immiaccount with the Department’s website. Once you have created your account, use the New application link (top left), and then the Resident Return visa form link:

 

Resident return visa online application

 

If you have issues with lodging the online application, then you can post a paper form application instead if you wish, although the government fees will be higher for the paper form application (AUD $365.00 for online application, or AUD $445.00 for posting a paper form application).

 

Please see the Department’s PDF form and instructions for posting a Form 1085 155/157 visa application, and your relevant supporting documents, to the Department.

 

We would suggest lodging an online application if you can, since the government fees are lower and the online application form has a lot less questions then the PDF form. In terms of the Department’s processing time and post-lodgement handling of your application, these administrative steps should be similar for both online and posted applications following lodgement.

 

No. 7:  Is there any limit on the number of Resident return visas that I can be granted?

 

There is no limit, as long as you satisfy the relevant visa requirements.

 

No. 8:  If my application is refused, can I apply again?

 

Yes, but the result may be the same unless you change your application in some way. For example, if the Department refused your application because you do not have sufficient ties with Australia, then you can re-lodge a new application in the future once you form more ties with Australia.

 

Please see post in relation to Resident return visa refusal, appealing to the Tribunal or potentially lodging a new Resident return visa application in the future.

 

No. 9: I lodged my citizenship application and I need to travel. Do I need to apply for a Resident return visa for my travel if my permanent residency visa has expired or will expire before I return to Australia?

 

Yes you still need a valid visa to enter Australia if you do not have Australian citizenship yet.

 

No. 10: Can I lodge my Resident return visa and include my family members in the same application?

 

With a Resident Return visa application, each individual is required to lodge his or her separate visa application, even for children under 18. Each individual applicant and application will be assessed by the Department separately to determine if the applicant satisfies the requirements for the 5 years, 1 year or 3 month visa.

 

You do need to pay separate government lodgement fees for each individual family member and visa applicant.

 

Other useful prior comments and questions

 

Q: Can I apply for the Resident return visa even though my permanent residency visa has expired?
A: You can still potentially satisfy the eligibility requirements for a Resident return visa even if your permanent residency visa has expired.

 

Q: Do I need to be in Australia at the time of lodgement?
A: Generally speaking, no although this does depend on your circumstances and the requirements that you are trying to satisfy. For example, it is possible to satisfy the requirements for the 1 year 155 visa if you have sufficient current ties with Australia and you have been in Australia for at least 1 day in the last 5 years. You would be able to lodge such an application when you are outside of Australia, and be outside of Australia when your application is decided by the Department.

 

Q: Should I apply for a Resident return visa before my current permanent residency visa expires?
A: You can if you want, although you should consider the Department’s processing times if you have international travel plans. If it is granted, then the new Resident return visa will replace whatever substantive visa that you were holding (i.e. your Resident return visa is not added to your current visa).

 

Other visa information

 

 


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