Changes to RRV and Citizenship? When?

Old Jan 3rd 2021, 2:57 pm
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Default Changes to RRV and Citizenship? When?

My husband is a permanent Australian resident, having obtained residency through me (an Australian citizen) in 2012. We have been together now for 15 years, and went through the whole burden of evidence during that process. We were married in 2015, after he had been granted permanent residency.

We currently live in England, as my work ties me to Europe and the US. Pre-COVID, I would spend about 1/3rd of my time away on business trips to the continent, the Middle East and to the US. Our intention was/is to move to Australia as my career begins to slow down. I am 51. My husband is 67 and is retired. I have family in Australia (in fact, as does my husband)

In 2017, his Permanent Resident visa expired. Previously, I understood it was largely a rubber stamp process to get a Resident's Return Visa for a PR; I personally knew migrants living in Sydney who were on RRVs for 20+ years, and who had no intention of becoming citizens. However, the Government seems to have changed the law (?). When he applied for a RRV in early 2018, he had to show 'evidence of substantial ties to Australia', essentially repeating the process we did for his PR. This we did - he is married to me - but the RRV was only issued for 12 months. And it was expensive.

We travelled to Australia in 2018 on his new 1 year RRV, no problems. When COVID hit, we considered moving to Australia for the northern Winter, but my husband's 1-year RRV had expired, so we had to apply for another RRV. Sadly, the application was approved too late for the window of travel we were planning, but it was subsequently approved for another 12 months, and now expires in October 2021. We have booked to go to Australia in September 2021.

At no time during his 5-year provisional visa and subsequent permanent resident visa journey was actually living in Australia spelled out to us a requirement; I have the PR letter from 2012 in front of me now, and it definitely does not state that; only that he had to enter Australia by dd/mm/2013. We have never told IMMI we have an Australian address - we have always used our home address in England. The PR letter is addressed to our home address in England, so IMMI knew we were not living in Australia during his provisional visa.

My question is: when did the conditions for a RRV change? I can see that the government might want to encourage RRV holders to move towards Citizenship (and I guess I support that) but where does that leave PR holders like my husband who, for one reason or another, have not been able to move to Australia as yet? It really puts him in a horrible situation, and makes a mockery of the "permanent resident" visa. Each time we go to Australia, he has to apply for a RRV which costs $420 and is only granted for 12 months. He can't simply enter on a tourist visa, as if you do that when you have PR, it puts your PR at risk.

On the other hand.... the process for Citizenship seems to have been made easier. Previously, I understood a PR holder had to have been living in Australia for 5 years before they could apply for citizenship. However, according to the IMMI website, he can become an Australian Citizen by conferral if:
- he has PR - AND
- meets the resident requirement (which he obviously does not meet - BUT):
  • Ministerial discretion can be applied
    • Some periods spent outside Australia may still be counted towards lawful residence:
      - If you have spent time outside Australia as a permanent resident with your Australian citizen spouse or partner
      (which he obviously does meet)

See details here

Has anyone applied for Citizenship this way? If so, what are your experiences? We are thinking of applying when we arrive in Australia this September.

Please - no responses admonishing us for applying for residency back in 2009-2014. We did, back then, what we thought best for our circumstances. I can see in hindsight that may not have been the best idea, but there is nothing to gain by pointing that out. Thank you.

Last edited by evanstim; Jan 3rd 2021 at 3:15 pm.
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Old Jan 3rd 2021, 4:31 pm
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Default Re: Changes to RRV and Citizenship? When?

There are several issues here:

- if you live in Australia an RRV is a formality as you would meet the 2 year residence requirement. If you live overseas, you need to demonstrate that you continue to maintain ‘substantial ties’ to Australia which are of benefit to Australia.
- if your husband’s RRV is no longer current, he is no longer considered a ‘permanent resident’, he is a former permanent resident. He can reinstate his permanent resident status with the grant of a new RRV - this affects timing of citizenship eligibility.
- ‘Permanent residence’ is only permanent if the visa holder remains in Australia.
- as the spouse of an Australian citizen it is generally relatively simple to demonstrate substantial ties for an RRV grant
- RRVs for ‘substantial ties’, rather than those that mett the 2 year residence requirement, were reduced to one year durations around 7 or 8 years ago I recall (I don’t have the exact date to hand).
- there are some hurdles to overcome with the Ministerial Intervention route and this is unlikely to be a viable route in the scenario you outline.
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Old Jan 3rd 2021, 5:21 pm
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Default Re: Changes to RRV and Citizenship? When?

Originally Posted by Paul Hand View Post
- ‘Permanent residence’ is only permanent if the visa holder remains in Australia.
Thank you for your reply. This appears to be the rub. When did this change? As I said, at no point during the entire 5-year Temporary Resident/Permanent Resident process was the requirement to reside in Australia, as a PR, mentioned to us. If it was, it almost certainly would have effected our actions. Conversely, we have aways understood living in Australia to be a requirement for Citizenship.

Does the Government not realise this change disenfranchises existing PR holders unfairly?

Your reply seems to indicate that we have three choices:
- move to Australia: use the 1 year RRV to relocate to Australia, then after 12 months get a longer RRV then, eventually, citizenship
- stay living in England: keep applying for a RRV each time we want to go to Australia (and blow $420 each time)
- stay living in England: kiss the PR goodbye (and presumably go through the whole process again when we eventually do want to move to Australia) - and throw away all the costs we incurred already, which I guess has been around $6,000

Neither is a very palatable option.

Last edited by evanstim; Jan 3rd 2021 at 5:23 pm.
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Old Jan 3rd 2021, 5:36 pm
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Default Re: Changes to RRV and Citizenship? When?

Originally Posted by evanstim View Post
Thank you for your reply. This appears to be the rub. When did this change? As I said, at no point during the entire 5-year Temporary Resident/Permanent Resident process was the requirement to reside in Australia, as a PR, mentioned to us. If it was, it almost certainly would have effected our actions. Conversely, we have aways understood living in Australia to be a requirement for Citizenship.

Does the Government not realise this change disenfranchises existing PR holders unfairly?

Your reply seems to indicate that we have three choices:
- move to Australia: use the 1 year RRV to relocate to Australia, then after 12 months get a longer RRV then, eventually, citizenship
- stay living in England: keep applying for a RRV each time we want to go to Australia (and blow $420 each time)
- stay living in England: kiss the PR goodbye (and presumably go through the whole process again when we eventually do want to move to Australia) - and throw away all the costs we incurred already, which I guess has been around $6,000

Neither is a very palatable option.
“This” has not changed, just the length of the RRV available to those who do not reside in Australia.

I’m not sure who you think should have mentioned the RRV rules to you and I obviously haven’t seen your grant letter but the ones they issue now make clear that the ‘travel period’ is only 5 years and after that an RRV will be required if a visa holder wishes to travel whilst maintaining their permanent residence status. No one has been disenfranchised, the government basically said that those visa holders who demonstrated their ongoing commitment to Australia through actually living there would receive a more favorable RRV outcome.

Your future options are more nuanced than you state, but that is beyond a forum post.
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