Returning residents are those who are either current Australian permanent residents or former permanent residents or citizens of Australia. Former defence personnel who served in Australian Defence Services and meet 2007’s Migration Regulations’ definition of ‘defence service applicant’ are also treated as returning residents.

The above-stated people can apply for Resident Return Visas for Australia.

With the approval of Resident Return Visa, the applicants can live, work, and travel in Australia like permanent residents of Australia. The visa allows the returning resident visa holders to travel from and back to Australia innumerable times for the next five years starting from the date of issue of visa.

The applicants can apply for this visa from outside or within Australia. There are two types of Resident Return Visas, as mentioned below:


Resident Return Visa (Subclass 155 and 157)

Anyone who is an Australian permanent resident, or a former permanent resident still holding the permanent visa, or a former citizen of Australia who has renounced or lost his/her citizenship can apply for permanent residence in Australia through 155 and 157 subclasses of Resident Return visas.

These visa subclasses allow the visa holders to live, work, study and travel like any other Australian permanent resident and can claim health care benefits by enrolling in Medicare.

Applicants are eligible to apply for subclass 155 RRV, only if they are permanent residents currently, and have resided in Australia for the minimum of two years out of the last five years before applying for the visa. The applicant’s personal details like, name and date of birth should have been the same at the time when he got his previous permanent visa.

Character and health requirements are mandatory eligibility criteria for applicants to regain their PR status.

If the previous PR visa is cancelled, or have received any communication from the immigration department that the permanent visa may get cancelled, the returning resident visa application automatically gets turned down.

These resident return visa subclasses allow the visa holders to apply for Australian Citizenship if they meet the eligibility guidelines of citizenship. Also, a returning resident visa holder can sponsor eligible relatives for Australian PR.


Travel Facility On RRV subclasses 155 and 157

Travel facility for the visa holders depends on their visa validity. The returning resident visa holders under subclass 155 and 157 are allowed to travel from and to Australia innumerable times as long as the travel facility lasts.

Difference between subclass 155 and 157 visas, lies, in the travel facility provided on both the visas. The RRV under subclass 155 has travel facility up to 5 years from the date of a visa issue. The travel facility for subclass 157 is for three months from the time of visa grant.

The travel facility duration and the residence criteria are vital factors in deciding which visa subclass you fit in to and subsequently, you will get the grant of that visa.

For example:

If you had 5-year travel facility as an Australian permanent resident and claim a close association with regards to personal, business, cultural or employment aspects of Australia, you will be eligible to get a visa for subclass 155. If any of your family members have applied for or holds a Resident Return Visa, you will be eligible for a returning resident visa.

If the applicant does not meet the residence criteria of residing in Australia for two years out of 5 years, instead of subclass 155 visa, he will be eligible for subclass 157 visa. Returning resident visas with subclass 157 are for those who have left Australia on compassionate grounds and keen to come back to Australia.

If you had to leave Australia on a compassionate ground and applying for returning resident visa after staying more than three continuous months outside Australia just before applying for RRV, you could avail RRV under subclass 157.

If you meet all these criteria, you will be eligible to get RRV, subclass 157 visa:

  • As long as you have stayed in Australia, you remained in the capacity of a permanent resident or a citizen.
  • You have lawfully lived at least for one day ( but less than two years) in Australia in the past five years just before applying for RRV.
  • You left Australia under compelling and compassionate circumstances.


Make sure you apply for Resident Return Visa well in advance if you are applying from outside Australia. Because, before you enter into Australia you should have a valid RRV.

If your current visa with travel facility is nearing an expiry or have already expired, apply for an RRV immediately. You must have a returning resident visa issued before you leave Australia.

Validity of Resident Return Visa

The RRVs under subclass 155 and 157 are permanent visas. If you travel outside Australia when the travel facility has lapsed, your visa ends automatically. On the other hand, if you don’t travel at all, even if your travel facility expires, your visa continues to be valid for an indefinite time.

You can not include your family members in the application for these visa categories. Each member has to fill-in their applications separately.

The visa validity of returning resident visa for those who have not lived in Australia for more than two years in the last five years one year, instead of 5 years. This change is in effect from 15th February 2012.


Former Resident Visa (Subclass 151)

This visa is for those who have lived in Australia as a permanent resident during their formative years or those who served in Australian defence services.

The eligibility criteria for Former Resident Visa

  • One must have served a minimum of three months continuously in the Australian defence services before 19th January 1981.


  • You must have lived in Australia as a permanent resident for nine years before turning 18. But you were not an Australian citizen.
  • Your current age is less than 45 years.
  • You had maintained close personal/ professional/cultural relation with Australia all the while when you were living outside Australia.

Former Resident Visa is a permanent visa that comes with five years’ travel facility. You need to apply for another permanent visa if travel facility on this visa expires before moving out of or into Australia.  You can include your family members such as partner and children in your application whether they are migrating to you or not. You should enter into Australia before the date mentioned in the visa. But your family members are not allowed to enter Australia before you do.

To receive FRV in Australia, you must apply for this visa being in Australia. If you have applied outside Australia, you must be outside Australia when your visa gets granted.

Meeting character and health requirements is mandatory for you and your family members. You will have to furnish police verification documents if asked by the immigration department.


At DMS, we know how significant move it is to a person who wants to come back to a country where he feels belonged. We leave no stone unturned to make this happen. Schedule an appointment by contacting our migration experts here: Migration Assistance