Resident Return Visa
Congratulations on your PR grant! So that’s it? Are we done with all the visa stuff? I’d like to say yes, but no, I’m afraid, not really.
“You have been granted a permanent visa which allows you to remain in Australia indefinitely. This visa allows you to travel to and enter Australia as many times as you want until (expiry date). If you wish to travel to Australia after this expiry date, you will need to apply for, and be granted a Resident Return Visa (RRV).”
The expiry date, which is a whole 5 years after your grant date, is the expiry of your travel facility and not your visa. You can travel as much as you wish until the expiry date, but to return and to continue to move in and out of Australia, you will need a RRV (subclasses 155 and 157). If you are never leaving, ever, then you won’t really need to worry about this, but we’re pretty sure you’ll want to travel at some point.
Every permanent resident visa holder should understand the requirements for a RRV regardless of their future plans – things change and the more you know, the more prepared you will be. If you understand evidence that is required, you will be able to collect them appropriately or otherwise adjust your plans.
RRV (subclass 155) with residence requirement met
Of course, there are eligibility factors. Don’t have your visa cancelled, for one. There also a 2 year residence requirement. Before your travel facility expires, you will need to have spent a total of 2 years in Australia. That’s 2 years out of 5 years and you can only start counting those 2 years after your visa grant date. The 2 years can be an amalgamation of shorter periods; a day, a month, it doesn’t matter, it all adds up. You won’t need to do anything either, big brother watches – it’s all in the system. Your RRV with a satisfied residence requirement will extend your travel facility for a further 5 years. It’s a rinse and repeat cycle. You can apply for your RRV at any point during which you have completed 2 years of residence in Australia. You do not need to wait for your visa to expire, in fact we would prefer if you didn’t!
To be clear, this visa allows you to return to Australia and provides you with additional years of travel facility. If you were out of Australia for 5 years minus a day, returning just before your travel expiry, you will still be able to enter. You can then stay for the following 2 years onyour PR and apply for your RRV, enabling you to travel. But understand that if you have returned before your travel facility has expired and expect to travel out of Australia before you have spent 2 years in here, you will find difficulty in returning to Australia as you would not have met your residence requirement for an RRV.
RRV (subclass 155) with established substantial ties of benefit to Australia
If you haven’t been able to meet the residence requirement of 2 years, all hope is not lost. Prove that you have not been able to meet the residence requirement due to compelling reasons and that you have substantial ties of benefit to Australia – business, cultural, employment and personal ties – and you may be granted your RRV. These ties while personal to you, are not just about you. Specifically, the interest is in how your ties to Australia, benefits Australia. This RRV will only have a one year travel facility on it.
You will need to prove that you have substantial ownership interests in an Australian business or are involved in the operation and management of the business at a senior level. The business activity needs to be commercial and ongoing. Documents of relevance include company reports, financial reports, materials that define your role and position within the company, and anything that shows that the company is contributing to Australia
If you are a contributor to the arts, sports or religious scene in Australia, you might claim cultural ties as substantial ties of benefit to Australia. Your contribution needs to be at a level of public recognition and not at a small personal level. Again, your work needs to demonstrateitself as a benefit to Australia. Possible materials that may be used in this instance would be publications by you or about you, even better if they mention your ties to Australia, or are Australian publications, membership with cultural associations in Australia and any evidence of your work
Being employed in a company in Australia or having a job offer is a good way to show substantial ties of benefit to Australia. If you are employed by a non-Australian organisation, it would be important to then evidence that that organisation’s activity is of benefit to Australia. The documents that can be provided include a letter of offer, employment contract, even employee identification.
If you’ve resided in Australia for a long period of time and/or have an Australian partner whom you have been living overseas with, you might claim personal ties. Personal assets in Australia or other family members are also considered under personal ties. Identification documents such as birth certificates, proof of permanent residence and Australian residence of close family, children who attend school in Australia and Australian property documents are all items that you might provide in your RRV application.
These four facets of substantial ties of benefit to Australia have been covered in greater detail in a previous edition which you can find here. We highly recommend you read it if you are in a position where you will need to apply on the basis of substantial ties of benefit to Australia. The articles talks about how the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) assesses these ties and how to evidence for them.
RRV (subclass 157)
Didn’t meet the 2 year residence requirement and can’t prove substantial ties of benefit to Australia? The RRV (subclass 157), which only has a 3 month travel facility on its grant, might be your answer. To be eligible you will have to had spent at least 1 day in the five years following your PR grant. You will also need to show compelling and compassionate reasons for your absence. If you are applying from within Australia, you will need to show why you have to leave and return. If you are out of Australia, you will need evidence for why you last left. For example, if a family member has been unwell, medical documents from the period would be appropriate evidence. It is highly advised that you find evidence that can cover you for the length of the period if you are going to be or have been away for over 3 months, as it may become questionable if your extended stay out of Australia was necessary and intentional. Taking a holiday when knowing you have a residence requirement to fulfil will surely make your commitment to Australia look highly suspicious. Learn more about applying for a RRV after an extended (over 5 years) absence in our previous article here.
Applying for the RRV is straightforward if you have met the 2 year residence requirement. You may apply onshore or offshore, and online, by post or in person. You will need certified copies of your passport and any name change, if that has occurred since your visa grant, evidence of your PR visa, and may be required to provide a police clearance certificate. If you are applying for your RRV through claiming substantial ties of benefit to Australia or for subclass 157, you will need to need to include the necessary evidence (as discussed above) in your application. If you choose to lodge your application by post or in person, you will also need to fill in Form 1085. There is an application fee as well. Just so you know, applying in post or by person incurs an additional charge!
If you are making your application offshore and you haven’t got 2 years of residence under your belt, your visa success is a little less guaranteed. An offshore applicant will not be able to bring an unfavorable decision to review. Learn more about applying offshore, or returning to Australia to make an onshore application in our previous article here.
It was hard work getting your PR grant so we suggest that you take careful care when planning your residency in Australia. We hope that this article has helped prepare you for your future in the long term in Australia, and for any unfortunate cases of emergencies. If you have a complicated situation or are unsure of how to provide evidence, we suggest that you speak to an experienced migration agent. You wouldn’t want to lose your permanent residency over technicalities!