Resident Return and Former Resident Visas:
Permanent visas allow their holders to remain in Australia indefinitely. However, when a permanent visa is granted, it normally allows re-entry into Australia for only 5 years from date of grant.Within this 5 year period, the visa holder may apply for Australian citizenship (if eligible), or continue to retain their original nationality. If they retain their original nationality, and wish to leave Australia and return after the initial 5 year period has expired, they will need qualify and apply for a resident return visa to be able to return to Australia without any difficulty.
Eligibility for the resident return visa depends on the length of time spent in Australia and the length of time spent outside Australia. Permanent residents who remain outside Australia for more than five years at a time may not be able to obtain another resident return visa. They have to satisfy the immigration authorities that they have maintained “substantial ties” with Australia – business ties, cultural, employment, or personal ties. In addition they have to show that there were “compelling reasons” for their absence from Australia for more than five years. If they do not satisfy these two criteria, they will lose their permanent residency. If they wish to re-apply for permanent residence they will have to apply and meet all relevant criteria for a permanent resident visa.
If a permanent resident re-enters Australia after the initial 5 year period has expired, other than by way of a resident return visa, for example, on a visitor visa, their permanent visa will cease.
There are four typs of visa in this category:
Former Resident visa (subclass 151)
Resident Return visa (subclass 155)
Resident Return visa (subclass 157)
Provisional Resident Returen visa (subclass 159)
Former Resident visa (subclass 151):
Resident Return visa (subclass 155):
Resident Return visa (subclass 157):
Provisional Resident Returen visa (subclass 159):
The 155 visa can be applied for from within Australia or overseas. If the applicant does not meet the requirements for a subclass 155 visa, the application will be assessed against the criteria for a subclass 157 visa.
The validity of the 155 visa is:
normally 5 years from date of grant, and allows the holder to return to Australia at any time within that 5 year period for indefinite stay, or
in the case of an applicant who is applying for the visa on the basis of being a family member of another person who already holds a 155 visa, the validity will be restricted to the period which remains on that other person's 155 visa, and allowing the holder to return to Australia at any time within that period for indefinite stay.
In March 2012 the immigration department introduced a new policy providing that primary applicants for Subclass 155 visas only be granted a one year visa if they had not lived in Australia for 2 of the previous 5 years.
Another policy change was to provide that family unit members of the primary applicant will now only be granted a one year visa (and in some cases a visa for a shorter period).
The Former Resident visa (subclass 151) allows you to live in Australia as a permanent resident if you:
spent most of your formative years in Australia as a permanent resident
served in the Australian Defence Force before 19 January 1981.
This visa is a permanent visa. You can include your partner and dependent family members in your application if they meet requirements.
You can apply for this visa when you are in or outside Australia:
Applying in Australia: If you apply in Australia, you must be in Australia when the visa is granted.
Applying outside Australia: If you apply outside Australia, you must be outside Australia when your visa is granted.
You might be able to get this visa if you meet:
either the ‘long residence’ requirements or the ‘defence service’ requirements
health and character requirements.
If you are in Australia when you apply, you must hold a current substantive visa or apply for this visa within 12 months of your substantive visa expiring.
The last visa you held must not have been a Transit visa (subclass 771).
To meet the long residence requirement for this visa you must:
have spent nine years in Australia as a permanent resident before you turned 18 years of age
be younger than 45 years of age
have never been an Australian citizen
have kept close business, cultural or personal ties with Australia during the period you have been living overseas.
Proof of your close business, cultural or personal ties with Australia could include:
regular correspondence with relatives or friends in Australia
frequent visits to Australia
owning property in Australia
active business interests.
One of the following conditions must apply for you to meet the defence service requirement for this visa:
you completed at least three months of continuous service in the Australian Defence Force
you have been discharged from the Australian Defence Force before you completed three months of service, after you became medically unfit because of that service.
Service in the Australian Defence Force means that you served in one of the following forces:
Military Forces of the Commonwealth under a notice served under section 26 of the National Service Act 1951 as in force at any time before 26 November 1964
Permanent Forces before 19 January 1981. This includes serving as a member of the armed forces of a foreign country on secondment to or on duty with the Permanent Forces, if you were a permanent resident of Australia during your period of service.
When a permanent resident does not qualify for a 5-year resident return visa, they may still be considered for a 3-month resident return visa. This usually happens when the person has been absent from Australia for more than 3 years and hence does not have sufficient residence accumulated for the 5-year visa. However, the person is committed to return to Australia, but may have some loose ends to tie up before he/she can come back to Australia.
This visa subclass is intended for permanent residents or former citizens who have less than two years' physical residence in Australia and who have not yet established substantial ties to Australia. For example, they may have recently settled in Australia near the end of their migrant travel facility, and have not established substantial ties.
Applicants who have held a permanent visa or Australian citizenship in the last 5 years, but who last departed Australia as temporary visa holders may also be eligible for a subclass 157 visa.
The 157 visa can be applied for from within Australia or overseas.
To be eligible for this visa, the applicant needs to be an Australian permanent resident, or former Australian citizen, or former permanent resident (except one whose most recent permanent visa was cancelled)
In addition, the applicant must:
have lived in Australia lawfully and permanently for at least 1 day but less than 2 years in the preceding 5 years prior to making the application for the visa, and during which time the person did not hold a temporary or bridging visa, and
held a permanent visa, or was an Australian citizen, and
if the applicant is in Australia, the person has compelling and compassionate reasons for departing Australia, or
if the applicant is outside Australia, the person has compelling and compassionate reasons for his/her last departure from Australia, and
the person has not been absent from Australia continuously for more than 3 months prior to making the application for the visa, unless there are compelling and compassionate reasons for the absence, or
be a member of the family unit of another person who either:
holds a valid 157 visa, or
is applying for one.
The validity of the 157 visa is normally 3 months from date of grant, and allows the holder to return to Australia at any time within that period for indefinite stay.
A permanent resident of Australia is supposed to have obtained a 5-year or 3-month resident return visa before proceeding overseas. However, there may be instances when a person may neglect to obtain a resident return visa, or is ignorant of the requirement for a resident return visa. Having departed Australia, the person may have become aware that he/she does not have a visa to return to Australia. He/she may then approach the nearest Australian mission for assistance. Normally, if it can be substantiated that the person is an Australian permanent resident, the overseas mission can grant the person a 5-year or 3-month resident return visa, which will allow the person to return to Australia for permanent residence. Nevertheless, there may be times when the person, being overseas, is unable to produce any documentation to substantiate his/her Australian permanent resident status. In such a situation, it may still be possible for the overseas mission to grant the person a Provisional Resident Return visa to enable him/her to return to Australia.
The 159 visa can only be applied for from outside Australia.
To be eligible for this visa, the applicant
• must be outside Australia and does not hold a resident return visa, and
• claims to be an Australian citizen or permanent resident, but is unable to prove it, and
• would, if able to substantiate such claim, be eligible for the grant of the 5-year or 3-month return visa, and
• has urgent and compelling reasons for travelling to Australia before his/her claims (of Australian citizenship or permanent residence) can be substantiated, and
• is likely to be able to prove such claims upon return to Australia, and
• will not prejudice the interests of Australia by his/her entry into Australia, and
• there is no reason to believe that any exclusion period might apply to the applicant.
The validity of the 159 visa is normally 3 months from date of grant, and allows the holder to travel to Australia once only and to remain temporarily for 3 months within that period, and is not extendable.
Within 3 months of arrival in Australia on a 159 visa, the person must produce evidence of his/her Australian permanent residence and apply for a Confirmatory (Residence) (808) visa. If the person does not regularise his/her status within the 3 months, then the 159 visa will expire, and the person will become an unlawful non-citizen and liable to detention and removal.