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You can become a permanent resident of Australia by applying for and being granted a permanent visa that allows you to remain in Australia indefinitely. The most common permanent visas include some skilled work and family visas.
To find a visa that suits your needs explore visa options.
When you apply for a permanent visa, you will need to meet our visa requirements. Look under Eligibility in each visa to see what those requirements are.
Find out more about how to meet our requirements
As an Australian permanent resident, your right to re-enter Australia after travelling overseas will depend on whether the travel facility on your permanent visa is valid. You do not have automatic right of entry to Australia.
You may be eligible to become an Australian citizen after meeting certain requirements, including being a permanent visa holder and residing in Australia for a certain amount of time.
An Australian permanent resident and an Australian citizen are not the same.
As a permanent resident of Australia, you generally can:
- remain in Australia indefinitely
- work and study in Australia
- enrol in Australia’s national health scheme, Medicare
- apply for bank loans to buy property
- sponsor eligible relatives for permanent residence
- apply for Australian citizenship, if eligible
- travel to and from Australia for as long as your travel facility permits. Please see Overseas travel as a permanent resident.
- attend free English language classes provided by the Adult Migrant English Program
- work in New Zealand
You may also qualify for other government benefits and services. If you hold a permanent visa, but you are not residing in Australia, your eligibility for the above may be impacted. Contact the relevant government departments or authorities to confirm your rights and obligations.
Unlike Australian citizens, a permanent resident generally cannot:
- have an Australian passport
- vote in Australian Government elections unless you enrolled (as a British subject) before 26 January 1984
- access student loans
- join the Australian Defence Force
- obtain ongoing work in the Australian Government
- return to Australia from overseas without a valid travel facility (you do not have automatic right of entry to Australia).
Overseas travel as a permanent resident
As an Australian permanent resident, you do not have an automatic right to return to Australia from overseas.
Your right of re-entry to Australia will depend on the validity of your travel facility on your permanent visa. Your travel facility is listed in both your visa grant notification letter, and in visa information provided by VEVO. Further information on understanding your travel validity is available in ‘Travel facility on your permanent visa’.
If you migrated to Australia before 1987, and travelled outside Australia between 1 March 1976 and 31 December 1986, your passport may have been wet stamped to prove that you hold an Authority to Return or Return Endorsement. Please see ‘Authority to Return or Return Endorsement’ for further information.
Travel facility on your permanent visa
When you are granted a permanent visa, you are usually permitted a 5-year travel facility. This means you can leave and re-enter Australia as many times as you like in the 5 years from the date your permanent visa was granted, as long as your visa remains valid.
After 5 years, your travel facility expires. You will need to apply for and be granted either:
- a Resident Return visa – if you wish to re-enter Australia as a permanent resident
- Australian citizenship – if you wish to travel as an Australian citizen.
If you enter Australia on a temporary visa when the travel facility on your permanent visa has expired, this will have an adverse impact on you. See ‘Resident Return visa’ below for details.
If you are not eligible for either of the above and wish to return to Australia as a permanent resident, you may have to apply again for a permanent visa, such as a Former Resident visa, a family visa or a skilled visa.
You can check when your travel facility ends in VEVO.
Travel Facility Expiry Reminder (TFER)
The TFER service aims to remind certain permanent residents that the travel facility on their permanent visa is expiring in 60 days. The functionality is currently limited to visa holders of the following:
- Partner visa (100)
- Employer Nomination Scheme visa (856)
- Skilled sponsored visa (176)
- Partner visa (801)
These reminders are only sent via email to visa holders who do not have a pending RRV application, and have their personal email addresses recorded in our system. For dependants of these visas, with no email address recorded, the primary applicant’s personal email address is used instead.
Resident Return visa
If you wish to return to Australia as a permanent resident from any overseas travel, you may need to apply for and be granted a Resident Return visa (subclass 155 or subclass 157) if:
- the travel facility on your permanent visa has either already expired or will expire while you are outside Australia
- you are a former Australian permanent resident whose last permanent visa was not cancelled
- you are a former Australian citizen who lost or renounced your citizenship.
If you intend to arrive in Australia without a valid visa, your entry will be denied (unless you are an Australian citizen).
Your permanent resident status will only be reinstated if your application for a Resident Return visa is granted. If your Resident Return visa application is refused, you may have to consider applying again for another permanent visa, such as a Former Resident visa, a family visa or a skilled visa. You will be provided with information regarding your eligibility for any merits review processes.
Any family members who are permanent residents travelling outside of Australia will need to apply for their own Resident Return visas.
Returning to Australia without a permanent visa that has a valid travel facility (for example, entering Australia on an ETA or visitor visa) may impact both your:
- entitlements as a permanent resident
- ability to satisfy the permanent residence requirements when applying for Australian citizenship or when applying for another Resident Return visa.
If you are in Australia as a permanent resident, you do not need to apply for a Resident Return visa if you do not wish to travel following the expiry of your permanent visa’s travel facility.
Authority to Return or Return Endorsement
If you migrated to Australia before 1987, and travelled outside Australia between 1 March 1976 and 31 December 1986, your passport may have been wet stamped to prove that you held either:
- an Authority to Return (issued between 1 March 1976 and 31 August 1979)
- a Return Endorsement (issued between 1 September 1979 and 31 December 1986)
An Authority to Return or a Return Endorsement is an old form of return documentation issued to Australian permanent residents. If you held an Authority to Return or a Return Endorsement immediately before 1 September 1994, you are taken to have been granted a Transitional (Permanent) visa by operation of law on 1 September 1994.
The Authority to Return or Return Endorsement (Transitional (Permanent) visa) permits the holder to travel to and enter Australia within 3 years after each departure from Australia, and to remain indefinitely in Australia.
An Authority to Return or Return Endorsement (Transitional (Permanent) visa) could still be valid if:
- it has not been cancelled
- you have returned to Australia within 3 years of each departure
- you have not become an Australian citizen
- you have not had another substantive visa granted since 1 September 1994. This does not include the granting of:
- an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) (subclass 956, 976, 977, or 601) visa granted on or after 1 July 2002
- a Border (Subclass 773) visa granted on or after 1 July 2002
- a Visitor (Subclass 600) visa granted under the Business Visitor stream in conjunction with APEC Business Card
- a special purpose visa
If you currently hold an Authority to Return or Return Endorsement (Transitional (Permanent) visa), you cannot apply for a Resident Return visa. If you were granted a Resident Return visa after 1 September 1994, this would have automatically ceased your Authority to Return or Return Endorsement (Transitional (Permanent) visa).
If you hold a valid Authority to Return or Return Endorsement (Transitional (Permanent) visa), evidenced by an Authority to Return or Return Endorsement stamp in an expired passport, you should carry both your expired and new passport when travelling to Australia in order to be allowed re-entry. We recommend that you apply to have your Authority to Return or Return Endorsement (Transitional (Permanent) visa) recorded as an electronic record in the Department’s systems. Please see ‘Informing the Department of your eligibility to hold a BF-111’.
Examples of wet stamps between 1976 and 1986
The Authority to Return and Return Endorsement wet stamps appear in your expired passport as follows:
ATR (Authority to Return)
Return Endorsement (Family Travelling)
Return Endorsement (Single Person Travelling)
If you have not travelled since 1987
In 1987, Australia began processing visas electronically. If you migrated to Australia before 1987 and have not travelled overseas since, we are unlikely to have an electronic record of your permanent visa.
If you held an Authority to Return or Return Endorsement wet stamp in your passport, you may hold a Authority to Return or Return Endorsement (Transitional (Permanent) visa). You can apply to have it recorded as an electronic record in the form of a BF-111 to facilitate re-entry to Australia. You cannot apply for a Resident Return visa.
Note: A BF-111 is not a type of visa that you can apply for. It is only an electronic record of your wet stamp to recognize that you hold an Authority to Return or Return Endorsement (Transitional (Permanent) visa).
Informing the Department of your eligibility to hold a BF-111
If you held an Authority to Return or Return Endorsement – which was wet stamped in your passport between 1976 and 1986 – you may hold a Transitional (Permanent) visa. This will not be recorded on the Department’s current electronic systems. To avoid significant delays when you travel to and from Australia, you should apply to have your Authority to Return or Return Endorsement (Transitional (Permanent) visa) recorded on our systems as a BF-111 before leaving Australia.
How to apply
- Apply online using Application for Authority to Return or Return Endorsement (Transitional (Permanent) visa) recorded as a BF-111 visa form
- Attach copies of the following documents to the form:
- Authority to Return or Return Endorsement wet stamp
- Evidence of any name changes
- Biodata pages of both your current and old passports
This does not alter the conditions of your visa in any way. There is no charge for this service.
If you get a new passport, you must provide us with your new passport details so that we can link your visa to your new passport. If you do not link your visa to your new passport, your travel may be delayed.
Proof of permanent residence
To prove permanent resident status you can use VEVO to:
- email or print out your status or
- give permission for an organisation or a government agency to perform a VEVO check.
You can do this, as long as your visa is linked with your:
- passport or
Common examples of when you may need to prove your permanent resident status include:
- interacting with other Australian government agencies regarding entitlements and benefits such as Centrelink and Medicare or
- obtaining certain documentation from other Australian agencies or authorities such as:
- Driver’s licence
- Maritime Security Identification Card (MSIC)
- interacting with foreign embassies, consulates and high commissions in Australia or for the purposes of obtaining a foreign travel document
We no longer issue:
- Certificate of Evidence of Resident Status (CERS)
- Certificate of Status for New Zealand Citizens in Australia (CSNZCA)
- Document for Travel to Australia
- Visa Evidence Card
- Visa labels or stickers
When you do not have a VEVO record
Your access to a VEVO record may depend on whether your most recent entry to Australia was:
- before 1990 or
- after 1990
You may not have a VEVO record if:
- you arrived in Australia before 1990 and
- have not travelled overseas since.
To request an electronic visa record you must provide:
- identity documents including evidence of your arrival in Australia and
- details of your valid passport.
If you do not have and can’t obtain a passport, you may be eligible for an ImmiCard.
You will be able to access VEVO once your visa has been recorded in our systems and your passport or ImmiCard is linked to the visa. This will be required to access VEVO.
Your VEVO visa record is linked to your passport. If you have renewed your passport since arriving in Australia, you will need to tell us of the new details to link your visa details to the new passport. This will be required to access VEVO.
Permanent resident travelling overseas
If you are a long term resident who arrived in Australia before 1990 and have not left Australia since, you are unlikely to have an electronic visa record. In order to be able to use VEVO you will have to apply for an electronic visa record.
Evidence of your arrival in Australia
If you need information about your arrival date in Australia, you can apply for access to the travel information in your movement records.
People can become a permanent resident of Australia in different ways. Three common ways of becoming a permanent resident are through gaining:
- a family-stream permanent visa
- a work-stream permanent visa
- business or investor-stream permanent visa
Check that you meet our criteria before you apply. If your visa has a “no further stay” condition attached, you cannot stay in Australia beyond the period specified in your visa in order to apply for permanent residency.
To find a visa that suits your needs, explore visa options.
Family-stream permanent residence visas
These are for:
- partners, children, parents or dependent relatives of an Australian citizen, permanent resident of Australia or Eligible New Zealand citizen
- children being adopted or in the process of being adopted outside of Australia
- carers who need to move to Australia to provide long-term care for an approved relative
Explore permanent visa options for families.
Work-stream permanent residence visas
These are for workers who have an Australian employer sponsoring them to work in Australia, or have skills that Australia values.
Explore permanent visa options for workers.
Business or investment-stream permanent residence visas
Explore permanent visa options for business or investment.
Retirement visa pathway
The Australian Government has recently created a pathway to permanent residency for eligible retirees.
This pathway provides options to long-term residents who have contributed to, and are well-established in the community.
The government has built the pathway by setting aside a portion of places from the permanent migration scheme for parents.
Learn more about the Retirement visa pathway.
Former Resident visa
This visa is for certain permanent Former Residents.
Global Talent visa
This visa is for people with an internationally-recognised record of exceptional and outstanding achievement.
Refugee and humanitarian visas
These visas are for people who left their home country due to persecution.
To learn more about refugee and humanitarian visas, explore visa options.