Achieving permanent residence (PR) in Australia can be a long journey, for many it involves numerous years of studying in Australia, working for an Australian employer for a qualifying period, being in a committed relationship and deciding to live with your partner in Australia, or undergoing a competitive process to receive an invitation based on your business experience or skills.
Whatever led you to this point, congratulations on being granted Australian permanent residency! Australian permanent residency is highly prized globally – with its safe and reliable health system, strong economy, beautiful beaches, outback and tropical scenery – and as a country it appears regularly within the top 10 countries when it comes to health and happiness.
Whilst a PR visa enables you and your family members to live and work indefinitely in Australia, there can be some confusion around what permanent residence means and how to maintain it. We have created this guide for PR visa holders to outline our top tips to keep in mind to maintain your permanent residency and perhaps, apply for Australian citizenship in future.
1. What to do if you are outside of Australia when PR is granted
If you are outside of Australia at the time your PR is approved, you will need to pay particular attention to the visa approval letter as this will most likely include a “must enter by” date in order to “activate” your Australian PR.
The initial entry date is imposed as a condition of the visa grant. This means that where a PR visa holder does not arrive in Australia by the set date, the Department has the discretion to cancel the visa.
The Department’s policy states: “…As a matter of policy, migrant visas should be cancelled where the applicant breaches the initial entry condition unless exceptional and compelling reasons have prevented them from complying with the condition. The exceptional and compelling reasons should have an element which is outside the control of the visa holder. In all cases exceptional and compelling reasons should be considered in the first instance before considering other aspects relating to the breach of condition.”
If you have recently been granted permanent residency with an “initial entry date” requirement that you cannot meet, please do not hesitate to reach out to TMA to see how we can support you!
2. Ensure you have a travel facility on your PR visa before leaving Australia
While holding PR in Australia means that you can live and work indefinitely in Australia, it does not necessarily mean you can travel in and out indefinitely. PR approvals come with a travel facility that must be renewed every 5 years to enable travel in and out of Australia as a permanent resident. To renew the travel facility, you must apply for a Resident Return Visa (RRV).
If you do not have a valid travel facility prior to travelling overseas, you may wish to apply for your RRV prior to leaving Australia as this can be decided while you are outside Australia. If you apply for the RRV while offshore, you will need to remain offshore until this is approved.
For those who travel internationally, it is recommended to keep your travel facility active at all times, to avoid any issues with re-entering Australia as a permanent resident.
3. Oh No…! You left Australia without a valid travel facility on your PR/RRV. What to do?
It is not uncommon for people to leave Australia without a travel facility in place and need to return immediately, or they may only realise when boarding the airline to return to Australia that their travel facility has expired.
It is possible to apply for a temporary visa (such as a tourist visa, or border visa) to allow you to re-enter to Australia and apply for the resident return visa once back onshore.
However, while you may be able to travel back to Australia on that temporary visa, there may be implications on you meeting the residency requirement for a citizenship application down the line due to the gap in your permanent residence status. This means that it could change your eligibility date for citizenship.
4. How to qualify for a Residence Return Visa if you are living outside of Australia
You may have been granted your Australian PR however, due to various reasons such as work, personal or other commitments, you need to spend a significant amount of time outside Australia during the travel facility period.
The amount of time you spend outside of Australia can impact on your eligiblity for a Resident Return Visa which is subject to a residence requirement. You may still be eligible to apply for a Resident Return Visa if you have been living outside of Australia but have maintained substantial ties to Australia, however the RRV will be granted for a shorter period of 12 months (as opposed to 5 years).
It is therefore important to keep track of your travel outside of Australia during your PR period, and ensure you are maintaining residence or sufficient ties to Australia to maintain your PR.
5. Residing in Australia to qualify for citizenship. May be less straightforward than you think!
As discussed above, maintaining your PR in Australia may not be as easy as it seems. As one of the key components for Australian citizenship hinges on you maintaining lawful residence status for 4 years and your permanent residency in the 12 months leading up to the date you apply, it is very important to keep track of your permanent residency and maintain your travel facility and RRV.
How we can help
Our expert team can help you come up with a strategy to keep track of your Australian permanent residency and work towards your ultimate goal of Australian citizenship. It can be very disappointing if your citizenship eligiblity is impacted by a break in your lawful residence or permanent residency.
Please book a consultation for further advice about your PR and eligibility for Australian citizenship www.themigrationagency.com.au/book.