Applying for a Resident Return Visa
Direct citizenship pathway
22 April 2023
Following a review of New Zealanders rights in Australia the Albanese Labor Governemnt 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, such as the Resident Return Visa.
Apply for a Resident Return Visa (RRV) online by creating an ImmiAccount. Paper-based RRV applications will incur an $80 non-internet fee.
Home Affairs may request you complete Form 80 - Personal Details and Character Assessment.
Your initial RRV has a 12 month travel facility. Re-entering Australia beyond the Must Not Arrive After date on your Visa Grant Notice will see you granted a Special Category Visa.
Applying for a Resident Return Visa
The following information is intended for New Zealand citizens residing in Australia as non-protected Special Category Visa-holders. If you are a protected SCV you can apply for citizenship, provided you meet residency criteria.
New Zealanders entering Australia are a granted a Special Category Visa (SCV). The SCV is a temporary visa under the Migration Act. Some New Zealanders may be directly eligible for Australian citizenship.
Prior to 1 September 1994 New Zealanders were automatically granted permanent residency upon entering Australia. A Resident Return Visa (RRV) enables them to reinstate that former permanent residency. Twelve months after being granted RRV they can apply for citizenship, provided they have resided in Australia for at least four years immediately prior to applying.
NZ family relationship visa (461)
Once granted RRV or Australian citizenship you cannot renew a Family Relationship 461 visa because you are no longer an SCV-holder. When a family member's current 461 visa expires you will have to sponsor them for a Partner visa (from $8,085) or Child visa (from $2,790).
If you sponsor your child for a permanent visa they will not be eligible for a HELP loan until they attend their citizenship ceremony.
Eligibility for a Resident Return Visa
New Zealanders are eligible to apply for a Resident Return Visa (RRV) provided they entered Australia as a New Zealand citizen before 1 September 1994. They are eligible even if they were:
- visiting on holiday or business for a few days
- a child travelling on their parent's passport
- not required to use a passport
- in transit for just a few hours, provided they cleared Customs.
For more information read Eligibility for a Resident Return Visa.
When applying for RRV:
- confirm your arrival date
- apply online
- read our guide to completing your application
- prepare your written statements
- pass the character test
- submit your supporting documents
- pay the application fee
- check the processing time
- check what happens after being granted RRV
- note there is a travel facility
When applying for RRV New Zealanders:
- must be residing in Australia, preferably for at least six months in order to establish their ties to Australia
- do not need to undertake a medical examination
- are eligible, even if they are aged over 50
- must have a passport valid for at least six months
- cannot include their partner or children on their RRV application, if eligible they can make their own RRV application.
Confirm your arrival date
When applying for RRV you must know the exact date you first entered Australia. All your previous travel is linked to your current passport. Even if you did not require a passport, there should still be a record of your visit because Incoming Passenger Cards have always been required.
It is recommended that all RRV applicants request their travel records.
New Zealanders can now apply for RRV online by creating an ImmiAccount. Paper-based RRV applications will incur an $80 non-internet fee.
Completing your application guide
Applying for RRV can be confusing. Refer to completing your RRV application for some guidance.
You will need to provide a written statement of your substantial ties to Australia now, and compelling reasons for any continuous absence from Australia greater than five years. For a longer absence you will need to provide more than one reason, or an ongoing reason. Include as many details as possible in your written statement.
The Department of Home Affairs has provided some information about preparing your written statements.
All criminal convictions, including historical, “spent” or minor sentences, must be declared on your RRV application. Failure to do so will see your application declined. You will also fail the character requirements if you have been sentenced to 12 months or more in prison, including historical offending or multiple short sentences totalling more than 12 months. A suspended sentence, where no jail time was served, is still a prison sentence.
New Zealand Police check
Request your New Zealand criminal conviction history, especially if you have resided in New Zealand for 12 months or more within the last 10 years, over the age of 16. Tick the box at step 3 of the form - -Full record of convictions' to request your full record. There is no fee, it remains valid for six months, and takes 1-3 months to be processed.
Australian National Police Check
Request an Australian National Police Check if you have resided in Australia for 12 months or more within the last 10 years. You do not need to provide finger prints. The fee is $42, and it usually takes 15 working days to be processed. When completing the form, in:
- Section 1: Type of check required - tick the box Name Check Only
- Section 8: Purpose of Check - select code 33 For Immigration/Citizenship.
The Resident Return Visa online application fee is $425 If you choose to submit a paper application form you will also be charged an $80 non-internet application fee.
Payment via ImmiAccount
Payment must be made electronically through the My Payments section of your ImmiAccount. Lodge your application within 30 days of making your online payment.
After submitting your RRV application and payment online you will receive a confirmation email/letter with a Transaction Reference Number (TRN). You can then upload scans or photos of your supporting documents and certified passport photo page. Do not send Home Affairs any original documents.
Scans and photos must be in colour, one document per file. Ensure they are clear. If a document is more than one page, save it all as one file. Give files a descriptive name, for example, Joan Smith birth certificate.
Note: the ImmiAccount system will only upload jpg files smaller than 500 KB each.
The Department of Home Affairs reports processing times for Resident Return Visa applications on its website.
If the Department of Home Affairs requires additional information or supporting documents you will be given 28 days to provide them. Keep them informed if there will be delay in obtaining documentation.
The Visa Grant Notice confirmation letter are emailed to you.
After being granted RRV
Being granted a Resident Return Visa makes you a Permanent Resident, and allows you to reside in Australia indefinitely. Note: your Resident Return Visa has a 12 month travel capacity.
If you change address or renew your passport use your ImmiAccount to update your details.
RRV travel capacity
Because New Zealanders haven't resided in Australia as a Permanent Resident for at least two of the last five years, they are initially granted a 12 month travel capacity. Keep a copy of your Visa Grant Notice with your passport and confirm your PR status at the airport Immigration desk. It will be located just past the Customs counters and SmartGate scanners.
Please be aware that:
- You can be outside of Australia for up to 90 days of the 12 months, with some work-related exceptions.
- You must reapply for RRV
- If you re-enter Australia after the Must Not Arrive After date on your Visa Grant Notice you will become an SCV-holder again. You may have to wait another year, after renewing your RRV, before applying for citizenship.
- If you are travelling overseas after the 12 month anniversary date has passed you will need to reapply for RRV. If necessary, you can renew online before re-entering Australia.
Check your visa status using Home Affair's VEVO system.
Completing the RRV application form
Refer to the Resident Return Visa information on the Department of Home Affairs website
Have a question?
Email the RRV processing team, 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 “Applying 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.