Eligibility for a Resident Return Visa
Direct citizenship pathway
22 April 2023
Following a review of New Zealanders rights in Australia the Albanese Labor Government announced that non-protected Special Category Visa-holders who have resided in Australia for at least the past four years can apply directly for citizenship from the 1 July 2023 without needing to apply for a permanent visa.
Anyone granted RRV who re-enters Australia beyond the Must Not Arrive After date on their Visa Grant Notice will become an SCV-holder again. They must reapply for RRV and reside for another year as a permanent resident before applying for citizenship.
Eligibility for a Resident Return Visa
01 September 2013
Note: New Zealanders must be residing in Australia in order to apply for the RRV.
Resident Return Visa information
The following information was provided by the Department of Home Affairs.
The main purpose of the Resident Return Visa (RRV) is to allow people who are permanent residents of Australia to travel internationally and return to Australia as permanent residents. In addition, these arrangements allow certain people who have previously been permanent residents or citizens of Australia to regain their status as permanent residents.
The Department's policy position is that a former Australian permanent resident can include any person who was considered a permanent resident under migration arrangements in place at that time. This means that people who entered Australia as New Zealand citizens before 1 September 1994 may be considered a former permanent resident. To be eligible for an RRV, a former Australian permanent resident must meet two additional requirements:
1. Substantial ties of benefit to Australia.
You must provide evidence that proves you have substantial business, cultural, employment and/or personal ties of benefit to Australia. While not exhaustive, following are some examples of what may be needed to demonstrate you have such ties.
If you are claiming business ties with Australia, you will need to provide proof of the ties and explain how they are of benefit to Australia. You will need to show that you have substantial ownership interests in the business and are personally involved at a senior level in the day-to-day operations and management of the business. The business activity needs to be ongoing, regular activity that is commercial in nature, has an intention to make a profit and has a system of record keeping and management that substantiates the business activity claimed.
There are a range of intellectual, artistic, sporting or religious pursuits which are not strictly of a business or employment nature but may be considered to be a cultural tie to Australia.
If you are claiming cultural ties, you will need to provide proof your role is adding to Australia's cultural life. This can include publications you have written, your membership of cultural associations, any media articles about you or proof of your performances.
To prove you have employment ties to Australia, you must show that you are currently employed, or have a formal offer of employment in Australia.
Substantial personal ties may be of benefit to Australia if you are, or have been, a participating member of the Australian community and economy. Living in Australia for a substantial period of time or living with an Australian citizen partner is taken into account. Proof of personal assets held in Australia or family who live in Australia could also help to demonstrate personal ties if you are able to show they are both substantial and of benefit to Australia.
2. Compelling Reasons for absence greater than 5 years
If you have been physically absent from Australia for more than five continuous years since the date you were last granted permanent residence (i.e. for a New Zealand citizen, your last arrival in Australia before 1 September 1994) you must provide evidence that there was a compelling reason for your absence.
You do not need to demonstrate compelling reasons for your entire absence from Australia. There must however be compelling reasons for any absence(s) from Australia greater than 5 years duration. While this may involve demonstrating why you were unable to return to Australia at the end of an absence, equally it may be that you are able to demonstrate that an event or reason that occurred at the beginning, in the middle, or on several separate occasions throughout the period of absence resulted in a total period overseas that exceeded 5 years.
The term -compelling' is not defined in migration law, so its ordinary (dictionary) meaning applies. The term compelling implies that the reasons for the absence should be forceful to the person concerned.
Key elements in this also include the amount of time you previously lived in Australia, intentions of returning to Australia to live and the amount of time you have subsequently lived in Australia. Ultimately the issue is whether a reasonable person, faced with the same set of circumstances, would have made the same decision.
Some examples of compelling reasons include, but are not limited to:
- severe illness or death of an overseas family member.
- work or study commitments by you or your partner that are of a professional nature, in circumstances where the acquired experience results in a benefit to Australia.
- You were living overseas in an ongoing relationship with an Australian citizen partner.
- You or a family member were receiving complex or lengthy medical treatment preventing travel.
- You or a family member were involved in legal proceedings such as sale of property, custody, or contractual obligations
- You were caught up in a natural disaster, political uprising or other similar event preventing travel
- You can demonstrate you were waiting for a significant personal event to occur that prevented you from relocating to or returning to Australia. The period of time for any such event would have to be reasonable in its context, for example:
- a 12 month delay while waiting for a dependent child to complete their schooling or a tertiary qualification is likely to be a decision that a reasonable person, facing the same set of circumstances would make
- waiting to relocate to Australia for several years until a dependent child completes their schooling or course of study would not of itself be considered a decision a reasonable person would make.
If you are unsure of your first date of arrival in Australia you can request your travel records.
Being granted a Resident Return Visa makes you a permanent resident, but only has a 12 month travel capacity.
Applying for a Resident Return Visa
Completing the RRV application form
Resident Return visa (subclass 155) on the Department of Home Affairs website.
Have a question?
Phone the Department of Home Affairs on 13 18 81 or contact them via social media. Please do not provide your personal details on a public forum.
The above “Eligibility for a Resident Return Visa” information should not be relied on as an alternative to advice from the Department of Home Affairs, or a professional immigration services provider.
If you have any specific questions about an immigration matter, you should consult the Department of Home Affairs or a professional immigration services provider.