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Bridging Visas in Australia
Bridging visas in Australia are simply transitory visas which permit you to remain in Australia for a certain period of time. Generally, bridging visas follow the expiration of your current substantive visa, such as a Student Visa, while waiting for an application for another substantive visa to be processed.
Bridging visas can be granted in the following circumstances:
- Your original visa has expired and you are waiting for the application of a substantive visa to be finalised;
- You have applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of a decision on a visa refusal or cancellation;
- There is a court appeal on a decision about your visa that you are waiting on;
- You have requested for a Ministerial Intervention; and
- You have been an unlawful non-citizen and are making arrangements to depart Australia voluntarily.
There are six bridging visa types which all have slightly different entitlements attached to them. Generally, your migration status previous to being granted a bridging visa will affect the bridging visa type you are granted as well as the rights which are attached to the bridging visa.
Types of bridging visas in Australia
Bridging Visa A subclass 010 (BVA)
The Bridging Visa A or BVA is granted when you make an application for a visa while you are in Australia and currently the holder of a valid visa. The Bridging Visa A allows you to remain in Australia after the expiry of your substantive visa while you wait for a decision.
In circumstances where you are in Australia as the holder of a Bridging Visa A and your visa application has been refused, you have 28 days to depart Australia. If you appeal the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, your Bridging Visa A will be automatically extended to allow the Tribunal to make a decision.
Under the Migration Act 1958 and the Migration Regulations 1994, a Bridging Visa A entitles you to travel anywhere within Australia but you are not entitled to depart Australia and then return. If you wish to travel overseas and return to Australia while waiting for a decision on your visa application, you should apply for a Bridging Visa B.
The Bridging Visa A also allows the holder to reside in Australia and gives the holder work and study permissions based upon the substantive visa they previously held. For example, if you held a Student Visa at the time you applied for a different substantive visa while in Australia, you will be granted a Bridging Visa A with the same work and study conditions as your Student Visa.
It is important to read your bridging visa grant notice carefully to ensure you are informed of all of your rights.
The circumstances in which you are eligible for a Bridging Visa A are as follows:
- You must be in Australia when you apply for a substantive visa while you hold a substantive visa. The substantive visa application operates as an application for the Bridging Visa A if you meet this requirement; and
- The visa you applied for is one that can be granted in Australia. This means that it is not a requirement for you to depart Australia before the visa can be granted; or
- You made an application for a visa in Australia and that visa application has been refused but you have appealed that decision within the statutory time limits.
It is important to remember that a Bridging Visa A is generally granted at the same time that you make a successful application for a valid visa. This means you will usually get two letters, one that acknowledges receipt of your visa application and another which contains your Bridging Visa A details. This letter will state that your Bridging Visa A will only come into effect or ‘activated’ once your current visa expires.
For example, you hold visa 1 and apply for visa 2. Upon application, you are granted a Bridging Visa A. Visa 1 expires and then your Bridging Visa A comes into effect until a decision is made on visa 2. If visa 1 does not expire in the time it takes for the Department of Home Affairs to make a decision to grant visa 2, then you will not have been on a Bridging Visa at all.
Bridging Visa B subclass 020 (BVB)
A Bridging Visa B or BVB is a bridging visa which grants the holder a right to travel. Bridging Visas B come with a ‘travel authority’ and ‘travel period’ which means you have permission to travel outside Australia and return, provided it is within the period of time stated on the bridging visa grant notice.
A Bridging Visa B can be granted in the circumstances where you currently hold a Bridging Visa A or B and it is in effect or will be at the time of your intended travel. Applications are made to the Department of Home Affairs in person and at the time of writing, the fee is $140.00.
Once the travel period ends and you have returned to Australia, the Bridging Visa B acts like the Bridging Visa A – it gives you permission to reside, work and study in Australia. Only those who hold a Bridging Visa A or a Bridging Visa B are eligible to apply for a Bridging Visa B.
Bridging Visa C subclass 030 (BVC)
A Bridging Visa C or BVC is available to you when you voluntarily lodge an application for a substantive visa while you are unlawfully in Australia. This type of bridging visa is granted if you do not hold a substantive visa and have subsequently become unlawful before applying for a new visa.
Under the Migration Act 1958 and Migration Regulations 1994, the Bridging Visa C does not permit you to return to Australia if you decide to depart the country before the decision of your substantive visa application is made. You cannot apply for a Bridging Visa B for permission to travel if you hold a Bridging Visa C.
If you are a holder of Bridging Visa C and it has been granted with a condition that prohibits you from working, you can apply to have this condition removed. As there are no avenues to appeal a decision granting a bridging visa with unfavourable conditions, the process requires applying for a new Bridging Visa C without the work prohibition attached to it.
Applying for a Bridging Visa C which does not have the work condition requires demonstrating that you have a compelling need to work. This often requires demonstrating that you are or would be in financial hardship if you were not allowed to legally work.
Bridging (Prospective Applicant) Visas subclasses 040 and 041 (BVD)
Bridging (Prospective Applicant) Visas can be granted to you when you are about to become unlawful and you have attempted to lodge a substantive visa application but the application was invalid. You can apply for the bridging visa to allow you up to five days to lodge a valid application.
Bridging (Prospective Applicant) Visas do not come with work entitlements. You also cannot apply for permission to travel or a Bridging Visa B to travel outside of Australia and return.
To be eligible for a Bridging (Prospective Applicant) Visa you must be an unlawful non-citizen or you will become unlawful within three business days of your application for the bridging visa. You have made a genuine attempt to make a valid application for a substantive visa and you will be able to lodge a valid application for a substantive visa within five working days.
Bridging Visa E subclass 050 and 051 (BVE)
Bridging Visas E or BVE are generally granted to non-citizens to allow them to remain in Australia lawfully. They are usually granted to non-citizens when they have been detected as unlawful and to provide them with time to depart Australia voluntarily. This usually occurs when a decision has been made to cancel a visa under section 116 of the Migration Act 1958.
Bridging Visas E are also granted as a way to remain in Australia while you make an application for a substantive visa, wait for a decision by a court on an appeal, or wait for Ministerial Intervention to grant you a visa. Bridging Visas E are also granted if you have applied for a protection visa.
A Bridging Visa E comes with very specific conditions. They are usually granted with reporting conditions, requiring the visa holder to report to a Department of Home Affairs’ office periodically. The visa also comes with ‘no work’ and ‘no study’ conditions. These conditions can be removed with an application for a new Bridging Visa E accompanied with submissions explaining why work or study rights should be granted.
Bridging Visa F subclass 060 (BVF)
A Bridging Visa F can be granted to you if you are a person of interest to police in Australia concerning serious commonwealth offences involving trafficking, sexual servitude, or deceptive recruiting. This visa will allow the holder to remain in Australia until the earliest date specified by the Minister. Usually this is 30 days from the grant or until the Minister advises that you are no longer a person of interest to the police.
A ‘no work’ condition is imposed on Bridging Visas F.
Not meeting the criteria for a Bridging Visa
If you do not meet the requirements of a bridging visa you will not be granted one. A person who is in immigration detention as a result of being refused a Bridging Visa E can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the decision, the court for judicial review, or request for Ministerial Intervention.
Otherwise, if a bridging visa is granted but it has unfavourable conditions, no avenue for appeal exists. The only option would be to apply for a subsequent bridging visa with that unfavourable condition removed.