Resident Return Visa (RRV) – New Zealand Citizens
This is an option available to a discrete group of candidates who are able to establish that they were in Australia at any time before the 1st September 1994 and can prove that they can satisfy the relevant requirements set out below.


  • New Zealanders must be residing in Australia in order to apply for RRV.
  • if you need to sponsor family you should consider whether the  RRV or the new visa option is best for you.

Resident Return Visa information

The following information was provided by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP)..

The main purpose of the Resident Return Visa (RRV) is to allow people who are permanent residents of Australia to travel internationally and return to Australia as permanent residents. In addition, these arrangements allow certain people who have previously been permanent residents or citizens of Australia to regain their status as permanent residents.

The DIBP policy position is that a former Australian permanent resident can include any person who was considered a permanent resident under migration arrangements in place at that time. This means that people who entered Australia as New Zealand citizens before 1 September 1994 may be considered a former permanent resident.To be eligible for an RRV, a former Australian permanent resident must meet two additional requirements:

1. Substantial ties of benefit to Australia.

You must provide evidence that proves you have substantial business, cultural, employment and/or personal ties of benefit to Australia. While not exhaustive, following are some examples of what may be needed to demonstrate you have such ties.

Business ties

If you are claiming business ties with Australia, you will need to provide proof of the ties and explain how they are of benefit to Australia. You will need to show that you have substantial ownership interests in the business and are personally involved at a senior level in the day-to-day operations and management of the business. The business activity needs to be ongoing, regular activity that is commercial in nature, has an intention to make a profit and has a system of record keeping and management that substantiates the business activity claimed.

A professional investor is a person who makes a living from active management of an investment portfolio (that is, their investments constitute their business and they are actively involved in decisions concerning the evaluation, selection, investment and sale of their assets). If you have a substantial, actively managed investments in Australia you may satisfy the business tie criterion.

Cultural ties

There are a range of intellectual, artistic, sporting or religious pursuits which are not strictly of a business or employment nature but may be considered to be a cultural tie to Australia. If you are claiming cultural ties, you will need to provide proof your role is adding to Australia’s cultural life. This can include publications you have written, your membership of cultural associations, any media articles about you or proof of your performances.

Employment ties

In assessing whether an employment tie is substantial and of benefit to Australia, a relevant consideration is whether you are employed in a permanent, temporary or contract capacity, and an agreed wage or salary is paid to undertake the work. Casual work would not normally be considered to be a substantial tie unless you had been living in Australia for a significant period in the last 2 years.

Your substantial employment tie may be of benefit to Australia if you are currently employed in Australia.

Personal ties

Substantial personal ties may be of benefit to Australia if you are, or have been, a participating member of the Australian community and economy. Living in Australia for a substantial period of time or living with an Australian citizen partner is taken into account. Proof of personal assets held in Australia or family who live in Australia could also help to demonstrate personal ties if you are able to show they are both substantial and of benefit to Australia.

Another relevant consideration in assessing whether your personal ties are substantial is your history and intention of residing in Australia. Do you:

  • regard Australia as home; and
  • intend to reside permanently.

It is recognised that a person may have substantial ties to more than one country. RRV criteria do not require you to have greater ties to Australia but merely have substantial ties which are of benefit to Australia.

2. Compelling Reasons for absence greater than 5 years

If you have been physically absent from Australia for more than five continuous years since the date you were last granted permanent residence (i.e. for a New Zealand citizen, your last arrival in Australia before 1 September 1994) you must provide evidence that there was a compelling reason for your absence.

You do not need to demonstrate compelling reasons for your entire absence from Australia. There must however be compelling reasons for any absence(s) from Australia greater than 5 years duration. While this may involve demonstrating why you were unable to return to Australia at the end of an absence, equally it may be that you are able to demonstrate that an event or reason that occurred at the beginning, in the middle, or on several separate occasions throughout the period of absence resulted in a total period overseas that exceeded 5 years.

The term ‘compelling’ is not defined in migration law, so its ordinary (dictionary) meaning applies. The term compelling implies that the reasons for the absence should be forceful to the person concerned.

Key elements in this also include

  • the amount of time you previously lived in Australia,
  • intentions of returning to Australia to live and/or
  • the amount of time you have subsequently lived in Australia.

Ultimately the issue is whether a reasonable person, faced with the same set of circumstances, would have made the same decision.

Seven examples of compelling reasons are suggested by DIBP but they are not limited to:

  • severe illness or death of an overseas family member.
  • work or study commitments by you or your partner that are of a professional nature, in circumstances where the acquired experience results in a benefit to Australia.
  • You were living overseas in an ongoing relationship with an Australian citizen partner.
  • You or a family member were receiving complex or lengthy medical treatment preventing travel.
  • You or a family member were involved in legal proceedings such as sale of property, custody, or contractual obligations
  • You were caught up in a natural disaster, political uprising or other similar event preventing travel
  • You can demonstrate you were waiting for a significant personal event to occur that prevented you from relocating to or returning to Australia.

The period of time for any such event would have to be reasonable in its context, for example:

  • a 12 month delay while waiting for a dependent child to complete their schooling or a tertiary qualification is likely to be a decision that a reasonable person, facing the same set of circumstances would make
  • waiting to relocate to Australia for several years until a dependent child completes their schooling or course of study would not of itself be considered a decision a reasonable person would make.
Other important information

Travel facility is only for 12 months

Since this application is not based upon the usual residence requirement but on substantial ties, then the RRV travel facility is only granted for a period of 12 months at a time..Once the permanent RRV is granted, if the travel facility on your permanent visa ends, you might be granted a Special Category visa (subclass 444) (SCV) when you enter Australia. It is therefore important that you keep the travel facility on your permanent visa valid.

We suggest you tell the immigration officer at the border that you hold a permanent visa, even if the travel facility is valid.