The concept of “Australian Permanent Residence” can be misleading.

Upon the grant of a Permanent Residence Visa, many people assume that their new status is, as the title suggests, permanent, that is, forever. It follows that permanent residents often assume that they are able to travel to and from Australia without restriction indefinitely. However, this is an incorrect assumption to make that can have a devastating impact on a person’s ability to return to Australia.

Whilst the granting of a Permanent Residence Visa allows a person to live, work and study in Australia without restrictions, it is imperative that permanent residents are aware that a permanent residence visa is only granted for a 5 year period and that travel restrictions are imposed as a condition of the visa grant.

Whilst Australian citizens have an automatic right of entry into Australia, this is not the same with permanent residents. A Permanent Residence Visa allows the holder to travel to and re-enter Australia as many times as they wish for a period of 5 years from the date their visa is granted. This means that should a permanent resident wish to travel overseas and then return to Australia after this initial 5 year period, they will need to obtain, and be granted, what is known as a Resident Return Visa before they leave Australia.

Generally, if a permanent resident has spent a total of 2 years in the last 5 years in Australia as a permanent resident, they will be granted a Resident Return Visa for a period of up to 5 years. This allows them to travel from Australia and re-enter Australia as a permanent resident for a further 5 year period. If they have not been in Australia for this amount of time in the 5 years immediately before they wish to travel, they may be granted a Resident Return Visa for a period of 3 months to 1 year, but only if they can demonstrate that they have substantial business, cultural, employment or personal ties of benefit to Australia, or if they can demonstrate a compelling and compassionate reason for having to leave Australia.

If you are a permanent resident, it is very important for you to be aware of the limitations of your visa to ensure you are not prevented from re-entering Australia. If you fail to obtain a Resident Return Visa prior to leaving Australia you run a very serious risk of losing your permanent resident status.

These issues do not apply once a person obtains Australian citizenship so, in many instances, it is preferable to apply for Australian citizenship as soon as you are eligible to do so.

For further information regarding your immigration or citizenship requirements, or those of your employees, please contact:

Joanne D’Andrea
Principal and Registered Migration Agent
Migration Agents No. 9904625
Harwood Andrews
03 5226 8567
jdandrea@harwoodandrews.com.au