If you are an Australian permanent resident, you have the right to live in Australia indefinitely. However, many permanent residents do not realise that you also have specific travel requirements. Under these requirements, you can travel in and out of Australia for up to five years from the date that your visa was granted. However, if this travel period expires and you are planning on travelling outside Australia, you will need to apply for a resident return visa to re-enter Australia. This article will discuss the essential eligibility requirements for the resident return visa and outline how you can apply.

The Different Types of Resident Return Visas

There are two types of resident return visas that allow you to return to Australia as a permanent resident:

  • subclass 155; and
  • subclass 157.

The main difference between the two is the duration of the visa. The subclass 155 resident return visa is very common and is valid for five years. This means that you are allowed to travel in and out of Australia for five years without making any changes to your visa.

The subclass 157 resident return visa is usually for those who are ineligible for subclass 155 and has a shorter validity period. This period will depend on your individual circumstances and is discussed further below.

You Must Be a Current or Former Australian Permanent Resident

To be eligible for the resident return visa, you must be either be:

  • an Australian permanent resident;
  • a former Australian permanent resident whose last permanent visa was not cancelled; or
  • a former Australian citizen who lost or renounced citizenship. For example, you became a national of another country that did not allow dual citizenship.

An Australian permanent resident is generally defined as a non-citizen who holds an Australian permanent visa. There are many different pathways to become a permanent resident, including through:

Residence or Substantial Ties Requirements

To be eligible for this visa, you must also demonstrate that you have:

  • lived in Australia for two years in the last five years as a permanent resident, former permanent resident, or former citizen; or
  • substantial ties to Australia that are of benefit to the country.

Substantial ties include:

  • business ties;
  • cultural ties;
  • employment ties; and
  • personal ties.

This table provides examples of situations where you may be able to demonstrate your substantial ties to Australia:

Substantial Tie Examples Example documents
Business Ties You own and manage an established business in Australia. Include:

  • Australian Business Number registration certificate;
  • company registration certificate;
  • annual reports;
  • financial statements; or
  • organisational chart.
Cultural Ties You are involved in the arts professionally (e.g. actor, musician, author) or an active member of a religious, sporting, or cultural group in Australia. Include:

  • publications that you have written or that are about you; and
  • membership details with cultural associations.
Employment Ties You are employed by or have a job offer from an Australian business. Include:

  • employment agreement;
  • letter of offer; or
  • character references.
Personal Ties You have close family members who are Australian citizens, or you own a house or other personal assets in Australia. Include:

  • certified copies of passports;
  • citizenship certificates;
  • school enrolments;
  • property purchase documents.


Length of Resident Return Visa Validity

How long your resident return visa is valid for will depend on whether you meet the residence or substantial ties requirements.

Requirement Usual Length of Visa Visa
Residence requirement. You have lived in Australia for two years in the last five years. Five years. Subclass 155.
Substantial ties requirement. If you do not meet the residence requirement, but can demonstrate that you have substantial ties to Australia that are of benefit to Australia. 12 months. Subclass 157.
If you do not meet both requirements, but have compelling and compassionate reasons for departure. Three months. Subclass 157.


Additionally, if you have been absent from Australia for a continuous period of five years, then you will need to show compelling reasons for this absence.

For example, if you had an overseas family member who was severely ill.

Additional Requirements

You must also ensure that:

  • you do not hold an Authority to Return or Return Endorsement;
  • your business skills visa has not been cancelled;
  • you meet the character and health requirements;
  • none of your previous visas have been cancelled;
  • none of your previous application have been refused.

How Do I Apply?

You can apply for the resident return visa online through an ImmiAccount or by completing and mailing Form 1085. You can apply for this visa from inside or outside of Australia. However, if you are outside Australia when your travel period expires, you will need to apply and be granted the resident return visa before re-entering Australia.

Before applying, you should ensure that you have the relevant supporting documents in place, including:

  • a valid passport or other travel document;
  • a visa grant letter showing permanent resident status;
  • substantial ties of benefit to Australia documents; and
  • character documents.

If you meet the residence requirement, your application will generally be processed within five working days. If you do not meet this requirement, your application will likely take around 12 weeks to process. Therefore, it is recommended that you apply for the resident return visa at least three months before you intend to travel.

Key Takeaways

While being an Australian permanent resident allows you to stay in Australia indefinitely, you are only allowed to travel in and out of Australia for a period of five years. If this travel period expires when you are outside Australia, you will need to apply for a resident return visa to re-enter the country. The key eligibility requirements of the resident return visa are that you must:

  • be a current or former Australian Permanent Resident; and
  • meet the residence or substantial ties requirements.

If you have any questions about the resident return visa, contact LegalVision’s Immigration lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a tech-driven, full-service commercial law firm that uses technology to deliver a faster, better quality and more cost-effective client experience.
Graci Chen

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