Australian Immigration – Understanding Bridging Visas
A bridging visa is a temporary visa that the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) might grant in certain circumstances to allow a non-Australian citizen to remain in Australia for a certain period of time. Understanding when and how to apply for bridging visas is essential, and seeking professional assistance can make the process smoother and more manageable. With the right guidance and adherence to visa regulations, navigating the complex Australian immigration landscape becomes a more achievable endeavour.
Why Apply for a Bridging Visa?
There are a number of different scenarios where you may need to apply for a bridging visa. For instance, you may need a bridging visa if your current substantive visa is about to expire, but you need to remain in the country for various reasons.
A bridging visa may also be granted if your circumstances change, and you need a temporary visa to maintain your lawful status. For instance, if you are on a student visa and have applied for a partner visa, you will be granted a bridging visa to stay in Australia between your student visa ending and waiting on the outcome of your application for a partner visa.
How to obtain a Bridging Visa
In most cases, you will need to lodge an application for a substantive visa in Australia. When you lodge the visa application, you will generally automatically be granted a Bridging visa. However, it is important that you complete your substantive application accurately and correctly, and attach all necessary documents. This may require you to obtain expert assistance. If the application is not properly documented, it could be invalid and you will not get a Bridging visa. Once your substantive visa application is lodged, the department will assess it. If your current visa expires during this time, you will move onto the Bridging visa, ensuring the continuity of your lawful status while the substantive visa application is processed.
If the above is not the case, obtaining a bridging visa in Australia involves a specific application process. First, you must determine your eligibility for a bridging visa, and identify which bridging visa is right for your circumstances. This is typically done by consulting with an immigration expert who can review your documents and advise on options available.
Types of Bridging Visas
There are several types of bridging visas for different circumstances. The three most common bridging visas are A, B and C:
If your current visa is expiring and you are applying for a new type of visa, you will be granted a Bridging Visa A (BVA). This will allow you to stay in Australia lawfully after your visa ceases and while your substantive visa application is being processed. In addition, if your visa application is refused, you may have a right of appeal or review of the decision. If so, a BVA can allow you to remain in Australia until the appeal process is finalised.
In some circumstances, a BVA would have the same conditions attached to it as the visa held at the time of application. Therefore, a BVA may or may not have work rights. You may be able to apply for permission to work if the Bridging visa is initially granted with the ‘no work’ condition.
If you hold a Bridging visa A, you may choose to apply for a Bridging Visa B (BVB) if you have a good reason to need to leave and return to Australia while waiting for your application to be processed. If you depart Australia with another type of bridging visa in effect, then that visa will cease, and you may not be able to re-enter Australia if and until the Department grants you a substantive visa.
A BVB has a defined travel period. You can leave Australia and re-enter on a BVB within this defined travel period. If you are in Australia when the travel period ends and you need to travel outside Australia again, you can apply for another BVB.
You may be granted or apply for a Bridging Visa C (BVC) if you are in Australia and do not currently hold a substantive visa. This could occur if you lodged an application while holding a bridging visa, or you were unlawfully in Australia after your substantive visa expired. The BVC would allow you to remain in Australia lawfully while applying for a substantive visa to be assessed.
If you hold a BVC, you cannot travel outside of Australia. This visa comes without work rights, but an application can be made to obtain permission to work.
There are four additional bridging visas that are used in specific circumstances:
A Bridging Visa E (BVE) lets people stay lawfully in Australia while they make arrangements to leave the country, finalise their immigration matter or wait for an immigration decision. A BVE comes with very strict conditions, including reporting conditions. This visa also usually comes with no authorisation to work or study.
A Bridging Visa D (BVD) is granted when someone tried but was unable to apply for a substantive visa. For example, they did not pay the correct fee or filled out the wrong visa application form or an authorised officer is not available to interview them, but they will be able to do so within the next five working days.
A Bridging Visa R (BVR) is for people who are in immigration detention but their removal from Australia is not reasonably practicable. This allows them to be released from detention pending their removal.
A Bridging Visa F (BVF) is used exclusively for suspected victims of trafficking or slavery who do not hold a substantive visa.
Australian immigration laws provide for certain bridging visas to allow temporary stay during visa extensions or appeals. The circumstances that may lead to the need to apply for a bridging visa can be complex and it is important to ensure the right type of bridging visa is sought. Seeking professional guidance from an experienced immigration lawyer can help visa applicants successfully navigate the regulations and process.
This information is general in nature only and you should obtain professional advice relevant to your circumstances. If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact us on (02) 9955 6692 or email [email protected].