You are here

Permanent and Temporary Visas

Document
Overview

In order to establish residency, it must first be decided if a person is an Australian resident. One definition of an Australian resident is a person who resides in Australia and is the holder of a permanent visa. Below are details of what constitutes a permanent visa and temporary visa.     

Permanent Visa

Permanent visas do satisfy the requirements for Australian residence. A permanent visa is permission to travel to, enter and stay in Australia for an indefinite period of time.

Temporary Visa

Temporary visas don't satisfy the requirements for Australian residence, except if issued as a special category or special purpose visa.

A temporary visa is permission to travel to, enter and stay in Australia

  • for a specified period; or
  • until a specified event happens; or
  • while the holder has a specified status.

Once a person has entered Australia under a temporary visa they can apply for a change of visa status to permanent residence.     


An Australian resident is a person who:

  • resides in Australia; and
  • is one of the following:
  • an Australian citizen;
  • the holder of a permanent visa;
  • the holder of a special category visa who is likely to remain permanently in Australia;
  • the holder of a special purpose visa who is likely to remain permanently in Australia.

Australia is defined in the Acts Interpretations Act 1901 and includes the following territories and Islands:

  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands

Subsection 5Q(1) of the VEA provides specifically that the definition of Australia includes the external territories for many VEA purposes including Part III, IIIAB, some parts of Part IIIB, Parts IIID, VIIA, VIIC and sections 52ZO, 58A, and 132.  Norfolk Island] is currently the only external territory of Australia. For the above VEA sections, which cover service pension, [glossary:income support supplement:118], pension bonus, pension loans scheme, Veterans supplement, pension supplement and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card purposes it is considered to be part of Australia. The test of residing in Australia does not by itself satisfy the full definition of Australian Resident, as residency also requires Australian citizenship or the holding of a specified visa.

Papua New Guinea and Nauru have both previously been external territories of Australia.  Lord Howe Island and Macquarie Island, formerly regarded as separate islands, are now part of mainland NSW and Tasmania respectively.