article by Daniel Chang

Some people get surprised when they notice an expiry date on their newly granted Permanent Resident visa (“PR visa”). Others remain unaware of the expiry, and can find themselves in a pickle later on.

Let’s clear up all the confusion.

What is a PR visa?

A Permanent Resident visa can be issued under many different classes and subclasses such as partner, skilled independent or employer-sponsored for example. But common amongst all of them is that they come with a 5-year expiry.

The expiry date however, doesn’t mean you cease to be a permanent resident.

PR visas give you the right to stay and work in Australia indefinitely, and if that’s what you intend to do, there is no reason to worry about what happens after the expiry: nothing.

Why does it expire then?

A PR visa also comes with a “travel facility” which means that as long as the visa is current, the holder is free to travel in and out of Australia (provided that they comply with all visa conditions and provisions of migration legislation).

This travel facility is what expires five years after issuing the PR visa.

Why are you telling me this?

A lot of people either get confused by realising their PR visa can expire, while a great many others never realise and find themselves in a situation they couldn’t plan for.

Once you understand what the expiry means, you can relax about not losing your PR status, and also plan for your future travels, for example, by applying for a Resident Return Visa (RRV).

Risk 1: getting stuck on your holidays

One of our former clients, after we assisted in obtaining her temporary visa, went ahead and applied for her permanent residency independently. She was not aware of the travel facility and assumed by default that now she can stay, work, and travel indefinitely. Unfortunately after leaving Australia recently, she was unable to board the flight back due to the visa expiry.

She was required to make an RRV application offshore, forfeit the aeroplane ticket, spend unbudgeted amounts on extending accommodation, gather the required evidence for the RRV from an inconvenient distance, wait for the approval, then pay for a new flight.

Risk 2: losing your PR status

An RRV has a “residency requirement” which means, depending on which subclass of RRV we’re talking about, the applicant needs to demonstrate having spent a certain amount of time in Australia.

Take the case of the rich investor, who obtained PR status through a significant investment merely for the purpose of convenience, not so much intending to move here. The visa is issued for 5 years, but the investor mostly stays in her home country.

As long as she enters Australia (again) just a day before expiry, she can still stay and work here indefinitely.

But she won’t become eligible for an RRV for the next two years, which is the residency requirement, so if she departed before obtaining an RRV she would just as well lose her permanent residency.

All of the above is somewhat simplified and we definitely encourage readers to consult a lawyer / migration agent to explore their circumstances in greater detail.

This is the true calling of being a lawyer.

It may be tempting to think that lawyers cost too much, or even that they’re out there to get your money, but in reality, a lawyer can assist you in so many ways that you might not even think of.

As lawyers, our ultimate reward is being able to help you gain a thorough understanding of your situation, to enable you to plan for better outcomes.