Australian permanent resident

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Australian permanent residents are residents of Australia who hold permanent residency visas but are not citizens of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Holder of permanent residency visas may remain in Australia indefinitely. A 5-year initial visa, which corresponds to the underlying migration scheme, is granted alongside the permanent residency. Until the initial visa expires, the visa holder may leave and re-enter Australia freely. A notable feature of the permanent residency visa is that, even after the initial visa expires, the holder is entitled to stay in Australia indefinitely without breaching immigration regulations.[1]

After the initial visa expires, if the holder wishes to continue to travel to and from Australia as a permanent resident, they must obtain a Resident Return Visa (RRV).[2] However those who live for too long outside Australia may lose their permanent resident status.

Permanent residency may be revoked at the discretion of the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship. However this does not normally happen other than in cases of criminal misconduct.

There are multiple programs under which an applicant may obtain permanent residency. The "General Skilled Migration Program" is mainly for skilled migrants, and has made available 129,250 visas for year 2012-2013. The "Humanitarian Program" is mainly for refugees seeking permanent residency, and has made available 13,750 visas for year 2012-2013.[3] Family members can also be sponsored. An unlimited number of visas can be issued for partners (either married or de facto) and dependent children. Visas for other family member types are subject to restriction (known as "capping"); for example there are only 1000 visas available under the 'Parent' category, and as a consequence there is currently up to a twenty-year waiting period before undergoing consideration for these visas.[4]

Most permanent residents are eligible to become citizens after a waiting period.[5] When the waiting period is complete, the process of sitting the citizenship test and attending the ceremony will add an additional three to twelve months.[6]

Permanent residents enjoy many of the rights and privileges of citizens, including access to free or subsidised legal and health services. They do not have the right to vote in federal elections, state/territory elections or local government elections unless they were British Subjects (citizens of some Commonwealth of Nations countries) and were enrolled to vote on 25 January 1984. Persons belonging to this special category are entitled to retain voting rights.[7]

Citizens of New Zealand[edit]

Citizens of New Zealand are allowed to enter and remain in Australia indefinitely under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, being granted a Special Category Visa on arrival, but must obtain a proper permanent residency permit if they arrived after 26 February 2001 and wish to enjoy the privileges of permanent residents.[8]


Benefits of permanent resident status include:

  • Few limitations on employment in Australia. Some job opportunities, largely state or federal governmental work, require citizenship as opposed to permanent residence.[9]
  • The right to apply for Australian citizenship after fulfilling some criteria.
  • For permanent residents accepted under the humanitarian program and enrolled in a Commonwealth supported place, the right to defer payment of their student contribution under the HECS-HELP scheme.[10]
  • The right to sponsor relatives for permanent residence, subject to fulfilling residence criteria and assurance of support requirements.
  • Children born inside Australia will be Australian citizens by birth.
  • The right to access medical and social security benefits, though there is a 2-year waiting period for some benefits.[11]
  • The right to apply for Australian consular assistance overseas. (Although this right maybe subject to restrictions)[12]
  • The right to travel to New Zealand without applying for a New Zealand visa. (This right is granted by the New Zealand government.)
  • Unrestricted rights to live, work and study in New Zealand. (This right is granted by the New Zealand government.)[13]

See also[edit]