A very commonly asked question.
How long to validate your visa?
- Permanent visas granted offshore normally have a 'first entry date'. ALL family members must enter Australia by this date.
- The main applicant must enter Australia first (or at the same time as the rest of the family). The others must enter Australia after the main applicant and before the 'first entry date'. This is known as 'validating' the visa.
- The 'first entry date' is normally around 12 months from the earliest date of police checks and medicals. Some people get less than that if medicals have a lesser validity - 6 months is not unknown.
- 'First entry date' cannot be changed after your visa is granted. If there is a problem meeting this date after visa has been granted, you must seek urgent professional advice to liaise with DIMIA so they do not cancel your visas. Only in exceptional circumstances will you be able to keep your visa if you do not respect the 'first entry date'.
- It is quite acceptable to validate a visa with a holiday in Australia.
- If the main applicant validates visa, and the family members do not, the family visas will generally be cancelled but the visa of the main applicant will not be. Main applicant may then sponsor family members for spouse and/or child visas, subject to the requirements at the time.
Changes in circumstances
- Any changes in circumstances before you validate your visa must be advised to DIAC.
- This particularly refers to health and character issues.
- Also refers to changes in family composition, eg marriage (including de-facto relationships) or birth of a child.
- DIAC do have the right to cancel a visa if a change in circumstance before validation is sufficient to mean that the visa would not have been granted in the first place.
How long to make the 'proper' move?
- The visa is valid for 5 years from the date of grant (NOT the date the visa is stamped or validated)
- You are expected to be in Australia for a total of 2 years (730 days) in this 5 year period.
- This is so that you easily qualify for a Resident Return Visa (RRV) after the 5 years is up. You will need an RRV to re-enter Australia as a PR if you are not an Australian citizen.
- If you do not meet this requirement but are inside Australia on the expiry date of the visa (5 years hence) the visa does not expire until the moment you set foot outside Australia for any reason.
- Hence if you are living in Australia at the end of the 5 year period you will probably not lose your PR but you will face hassle in getting an RRV.
- In order to keep life simple, make sure you move to Australia no later than 3 years from visa grant. This ensures you will have the 2 years in Australia required to get an RRV 'no questions asked' at the end of the 5 year period.
- Form 968i is an essential resource to understand the RRV rules. Bear in mind these can change anytime.
- Becoming an Australian citizen is the only way to fully secure your status in Australia. Australian citizens do not require RRVs.
In general, permanent residents can apply for Australian citizenship after 4 years legal residence in Australia, including at least 1 year as a PR. (for a transitional period until June 2010, some permanent residents can still apply after 2 years as a PR)
Things to do on a validation trip
- Open a bank account (or two), especially ones without charges. You can do this as a new migrant with just your passport, in the first few weeks, without needing to meet the 100 points ID test.
- With a non-Australian address, the bank should only need to deduct 10% Non-Resident Tax from the interest.
- You can claim this as a credit on your U.K. tax return (against the interest income).
Things NOT to do on a validation trip
- Obtain a driving licence. You are not eligible to do this in most places until you establish real residence in that jurisdiction.
- Register with Medicare. Again, as a visitor on vacation, you are not eligible for Medicare as you are not resident in Australia. Registering with Medicare may cause problems if it is then felt that you have established residence:
- The Australian Taxation Office may take it as an indicator of establishing tax residence in Australia.
- You may later on have difficulty with the "1 year rule" for new migrants to take out private health insurance without paying an age loading. See Healthcare in Australia
- Obtain a Tax File Number.
- You don't need one as a non-resident and obtaining one may give an indication of establishing tax residence in Australia.
Note. If you have a temporary visa (eg temporary spouse, most business skill visas, provisional (temporary) skilled visa or a 457) then there will be different rules. Permanent business visas and employer nominated permanent visas have special obligations which must be adhered to in addition to the points below.
Information originally posted in this thread.