It seems that a lot of people have heard about bridging visas, but most people are not familiar with how they work and what they are for. Often we hear clients asking about how to apply for a ‘bridge visa’ or asking whether they will have to leave Australia if their visa isn’t granted in time.
Bridging visas are very different from the other types of visas in Australia and are in a category of their own. The name bridging visa gives away what the bridging visas do: they provide a ‘bridge’ between visas. Generally, in Australia, if you lodge a visa application in Australia that can be granted in you are entitled to stay here while the application is being processed. The majority of bridging visas are granted for this purpose.
However, there are many different types of bridging visa and it depends on your circumstances which type of bridging visa you are allowed to apply for. There is a hierarchy of bridging visas, from Bridging Visa A to Bridging Visa F, but the majority of visa applicants will not encounter more than two different types of bridging visas. Here are the four main types of bridging visas that you may see:
Bridging Visa A
This is the most common type of bridging visa. Generally, it is granted when you apply for a visa in Australia while holding a substantive visa, i.e. any type of visa other than a bridging visa or criminal justice visa. The Bridging Visa A (or BVA) allows you to stay in Australia and it may allow you to work or study depending on which visa you applied for and what type of visa you held when you lodged the application. It will not, however, allow you to travel outside of Australia and then come back in. If you leave Australia on a BVA it will expire. For international travel, you will need a Bridging Visa B.
Bridging Visa B
This is the ‘come back” bridging visa’. The Bridging Visa B is like a Bridging Visa A except that it can be granted with travel rights for a specified period. In order to apply for a BVB, you must hold a Bridging Visa A. You cannot get an ‘open-ended’ BVB as you need to demonstrate to the Department when you intend to leave and when you intend to return to Australia. Unlike the other types of bridging visas, you need to pay an application charge in order to apply for a BVB.
Bridging Visa C
Like a Bridging Visa A, the Bridging Visa C is granted when you apply for a visa in Australia but it is granted when you do not hold a substantive visa. This is includes if you apply for a visa while holding a BVA or a BVB. Although the BVC will allow you to stay in Australia while you wait for your application to be finalised, it does not initially come with the right to work. You can apply for the right to work but you must demonstrate that you have a ‘compelling need to work’. If you are in the situation and you are looking to apply for work rights it would be a good idea to seek advice from a registered migration agent or migration lawyer. You cannot leave Australia and come back on a BVC and you cannot apply for a BVB.
Bridging Visa E
The Bridging Visa E is granted to people who do not have any visa at all and wish to remain lawfully in Australia. Generally, people apply for a BVE in one of two circumstances:
- They have overstayed their visa and would like some time to prepare their departure from Australia; or
- They no longer have a visa (either through expiration or cancellation) and wish to make an application for a visa, apply for review to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or wait for Ministerial Intervention.
If you find yourself in this situation, please contact us as soon as possible. Becoming unlawful can have serious consequences. unlawful.
Bridging Visa FAQs
Q. If I withdraw my visa application, what will happen to my bridging visa?
A. Your bridging visa will continue for another 35 days* after you withdraw your application. To continue the analogy, the bridging visa is a ‘bridge’ between your current visa and your future visa. If you take away the visa application the ‘bridge’ cannot be sustained and falls away.
Q. I have two different bridging visas, one that allows me to work and one that doesn’t. Which visa do I follow?
A. There are a hierarchy of bridging visas (BVA>BVB>BVC, etc) and if you hold more than one, the most advantageous (or the ‘highest’) bridging visa is the one that is in effect.
Q. I need a few more days in Australia, can I apply for a bridging visa to give myself some time?
A. No, bridging visas are only granted in connection with an application for another visa. The Bridging Visa E is for people who are in Australia unlawfully and we rarely advise people to become unlawful as they may get placed in immigration detention and removed from Australia.
* It is important to note that the 35-day period is the current period stipulated in the migration legislation, but this can change so it is important to check.
If in doubt, consider seeking professional advice and contact us today!
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