A “travel facility” is an entitlement attached to permanent resident visas (or “permanent visa”) which allows the visa holder to depart from, and return to, Australia. As the holder of a permanent visa, you are able to remain in Australia without any time limit. However, if you wish to travel overseas and be able to return to Australia while continuing to be a permanent resident, your visa must have a valid travel facility.
If you are outside Australia after the expiry of your travel facility, you will be considered a “former permanent resident” and cannot re-enter Australia unless you obtain a new visa.
When you are granted a permanent visa for the first time, it typically contains a five-year travel facility. This allows you to travel in and out of Australia without any restrictions for the first five years from the date of the visa grant. At the conclusion of this period, unless you have obtained Australian citizenship, you would need to renew your travel facility, which is normally obtained via a “Resident Return Visa”, known colloquially as a RRV.
Resident Return Visa (RRV)
A Resident Return Visa (Subclasses 155 and 157) is a permanent visa which is granted to permanent residents (as well as former permanent residents and former Australian citizens).
The RRV gives the holder a new travel facility period which can be for five years, one year, or three months, depending on the individual’s circumstances.
Subclass 155 – Five-year RRV based on meeting residence requirements
If you have been present in Australia as the holder of a permanent visa for at least two years out of the five years preceding the date of your RRV application, you can be granted a Subclass 155 RRV with a five-year travel facility. The two-year period does not need to be consecutive. Instead, all of your time spent in Australia as a permanent resident over the preceding five years will be considered cumulatively.
An RRV application made on the basis of meeting the two-year residence requirement will typically be approved automatically upon submission.
Subclass 155 – One-year RRV based on substantial ties
If you wish to obtain an RRV but you do not meet the two-year residence requirement, you will need to demonstrate that you have relevant “substantial ties to Australia that are of benefit to Australia.” If successful, you may be granted an RRV with a travel facility of one year.
Your ties will be evaluated on the basis of four categories:
- Business ties;
- Cultural ties;
- Employment ties; and
- Personal ties.
For a more detailed explanation of these ties, you may consult our article here.
If you have been absent from Australia for long periods of time (typically over five years), you may also be required to demonstrate that you had “compelling reasons” for your absence. These may include, but are not limited to:
- Severe illness or death of an overseas family member;
- Overseas work or study commitments, where the acquired experience will be of benefit to Australia;
- Where an applicant is living overseas with an Australian citizen partner;
- Receiving complex or lengthy medical treatment which prevents travel;
- Involvement in legal proceedings, the timing of which is beyond the applicant’s control;
- Natural disaster, political uprising, or other similar event preventing travel; and
- Waiting for a significant personal event to occur.
There are some nuances around this, so if you have been absent from Australia for very long periods of time, you may wish to seek specific legal advice on this point.
Subclass 157 – Three-month RRV based on compelling and compassionate reasons
- You have spent at least 1 day (but less than 2 years) in the 5 years immediately before the application or the visa as the holder of a permanent visa (or as an Australian citizen); and
- either you:
- have compelling and compassionate reasons for departing Australia; or
- if outside Australia – had compelling and compassionate reasons for your last departure from Australia (and have not been absent from Australia for a continuous period of more than 3 months immediately before making the application for the visa, unless there are compelling and compassionate reasons for the absence).
“Compelling and compassionate” is not defined by law, so its ordinary meaning applies. Under Departmental policy, examples of compelling and compassionate reasons include:
- Unexpected family emergencies (illness or death);
- An applicant’s involvement in custody proceedings for their child; or
- An applicant’s need to finalise their affairs in their country of former residence, in reparation for relocation to Australia.
How can we help?
If you are a permanent resident, former permanent resident, or former Australian citizen hoping to obtain a RRV, feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484 to determine which options might be available. Our staff are well placed to assist with all issues in relation to the RRV process, including demonstrating substantial ties, and compelling and compassionate reasons.