Australian permanent resident

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Australian permanent residents are residents of Australia who hold a permanent residency visa but are not citizens of Australia. A holder of a permanent residency visa may remain in Australia indefinitely. A 5-year initial visa, which corresponds to the underlying migration program, 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 responsible Minister, for example in cases of criminal misconduct.

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 or state/territory elections but may vote in some local government elections. Permanent residents are not entitled to an Australian passport.

Most permanent residents are eligible to become citizens after a waiting period.[3] 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.[4]

Migration programs[edit]

There are a number of programs under which a person may enter and obtain permanent residency in Australia, including:

  • General Skilled Migration Program - mainly for skilled migrants, and has made available 129,250 visas for year 2012-2013.
  • Humanitarian Program - mainly for refugees seeking permanent residency, and has made available 13,750 visas for year 2012-2013.[5] 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 limited (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.[6]

British subjects[edit]

The term "British subject" had a particular meaning in Australian nationality law. The term encompassed all citizens of countries included in the list contained in the Australian Citizenship Act 1948. The list of countries was based on, but was not identical with, those countries (and their colonies) which were members of the Commonwealth from time to time. The list was amended from time to time as various former colonies became independent countries, but the list in the Act was not necessarily up-to-date as far as to constitute exactly a list of countries in the Commonwealth at any given time. This definition of "British subject" meant that, for the purposes of Australian nationality law, citizens of countries which had become republics, such as India, were grouped as "British subjects", but were not necessarily citizens of Australia.

The status of British subjects was abolished in Australian law in 1984 by the Australian Citizenship Amendment Act 1984 and the status of such persons became that of permanent residents. However, those who were enrolled to vote on 25 January 1984 have had their voting rights preserved.[7][8] As at June 2009, almost 163,000 voters have a "British subject" notation on the electoral roll.[9] "British subjects" had also been eligible to be issued with Australian passports until 1984, but after that date only Australian citizens have been entitled to an Australian passport.[10]

Citizens of New Zealand[edit]

Citizens of New Zealand are allowed to enter and work in Australia under the Trans-Tasman Travel Arrangement, being granted a Special Category Visa on arrival, but must apply for and obtain permanent residency status if they arrived after 26 February 2001 to obtain the full benefits of permanent residents, such as subsidised health care and social security.[11]


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.[12]
  • 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.[13]
  • 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.[14]
  • The right to apply for Australian consular assistance overseas. (Although this right maybe subject to restrictions)[15]
  • 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.)[16]

See also[edit]