AUSTRALIA – Changes to Resident Return Visas (RRV)
Permanent residents who are not Australian passport holders must note that as of 15 February 2012, the Regulation on applications for Resident Return (Subclass 155) visas (RRV) has dramatically changed. Residents who have been outside Australia for more than three of the five years immediately preceding the RRV application will only be granted a renewal for one year.
Permanent residents are supposed to be physically present in Australia in order to continue to qualify for permanent resident status. Permanent visa holders who travel outside Australia for extended periods of time but who can prove “substantial ties” to Australia can apply for “Resident Return Visas” in order to maintain their permanent resident status.
From 15 February 2012 if a permanent visa holder has not lived in Australia for at least 2 years in the five years prior to application, but is favourably assessed against “substantial ties”, an RRV will be granted for one year only. Prior to 15 February, the applicant would have been granted a five year RRV.
Permanent residents who have spent at last two years in the last 5 years in Australia will still be granted a full five year RRV.
What Counts as “Substantial Ties’”?
The intention is to give DIAC Officers discretion and flexibility to grant visas to applicants who are contributing to Australia's well-being, but who have not spent sufficient time physically present in Australia in the past five years to satisfy the physical residence criterion.
The reasons for the applicant's past or proposed absence from Australia do not have to be directly related to their tie to Australia (for example, a person with an employment tie may have been absent on an extended holiday), but in many cases may substantiate the nature of the tie. DIAC will consider substantiated claims of the below: -
- whether the applicant has business, cultural, employment or personal ties with Australia and, if so,
- are the ties substantial and
- are the ties of benefit to Australia, or will they benefit Australia in the future?
- If you have staff who are permanent residents but not citizens of Australia, and who frequently travel outside Australia or are planning on doing so, please ensure that they understand the recent change to the Regulations, otherwise it may be possible for those who travel frequently to lose their Australian residency rights.