Permanent Residents: Don’t let an expired Resident Return visa ruin your holiday plans

In Australia, we are weeks away from the long summer holidays; a time when many Australian permanent residents will be heading off to visit family and friends overseas. But have you thought about the return leg? Checking the status of your Resident Return Visa is vital.

The Resident Return Visa enables Australian permanent residents to re-enter the country after traveling abroad. While it should be a straightforward process to renew, failing to maintain a valid RRV can lead to unexpected consequences, particularly during the holiday season.

Permanent Residents

So, what is a Resident Return Visa, and why is it important?

A Resident Return visa – or RRV –  is designed for Australian permanent residents who wish to return to Australia. It comes in two forms: the Subclass 155 (for current residents) and the Subclass 157 (for former residents). These visas are essential because, unlike Australian citizens, permanent residents do not have an unrestricted right to enter the country.

An RRV is typically granted for a duration of either 5 years or 1 year, depending on your circumstances. If you hold a Subclass 155 visa, you can leave and re-enter Australia as many times as you want within the visa’s validity period.

For Subclass 157 visa holders, the rules are more stringent, allowing for a single return journey to Australia.

As the summer holiday season approaches, many Australian permanent residents plan to visit their home country or explore new destinations. To avoid being unnecessarily delayed at the airport, planning ahead is key.

It’s important then to ensure your RRV is up to date well in advance of departure to avoid any last-minute hassles. Imagine being stranded at an airport, bags packed, family excited, and your RRV has expired. This unfortunate scenario can potentially lead to unnecessary stress and financial burdens as you try to sort out your travel documents. It need not happen with some early planning.  

“As part of planning a trip overseas, Australian permanent residents should check the status of their Resident Return Visa”

The renewal process includes meeting certain eligibility criteria.  These include meeting Australia’s good character requirements and having lived in Australia as a permanent resident for at least two out of the last five years or having substantial business, cultural, or personal ties with Australia. You’ll also need to prove your residency, and pay the applicable fees. You’ll also need to present a valid passport. If your current passport is about to expire, ensure its renewed before applying for your RRV. This is less painful compared to the stress of dealing with an expired Resident Return visa while abroad.  I’d recommend starting the renewal process a couple of months before the expiration date.

Once the renewal application is submitted, the processing is usually pretty quick for the 5 Year Resident Return (subclass 155 visa), with most renewals being granted within 5 days. However, renewing the subclass 157 visa can take up to 4 months to process.

As part of planning a trip overseas, Australian permanent residents should check the status of their Resident Return Visa. Understanding the renewal requirements is important to ensure your RRV remains valid while you’re traveling overseas. Failing to do so may lead to the distressing situation of being stranded at an airport, unable to return to Australia. Don’t let an expired RRV ruin your holiday plans; ensure you have a valid one before embarking on your travels. Safe travels.


Author: Greg Nicolson is Managing Director of Australia Business Migration Group and has been a practicing registered migration agent for 14 years (MARN: 0959139)