The Department of Home Affairs can issue a lot of different types of Bridging Visas. This blog aims to explain the most common ones, highlight a few of their features and hopefully dispel a few common myths and preconceptions.
Myth – I can apply for a Bridging Visa on its own.
This is incorrect. You can only get a Bridging Visa if you validly apply for a “substantive” visa while you are in Australia.
A substantive visa is essentially anything other than a Bridging Visa or a Criminal Justice visa. The name is the point to bear in mind. The Bridging Visa “bridges” the gap between the date that the visa you had expires and the date the visa you have applied for is granted.
Myth – My Bridging Visa comes into effect as soon as I validly submit my new visa application while I am in Australia.
This is incorrect. As mentioned above, the Bridging Visa “bridges” the gap between the date that the visa you had expires and the date the visa you have applied for is granted.
An example might help:
- Fred holds a Student visa which expires on 15/03/2020.
- On 04/02/2020, he applies for a subclass 485 (Temporary Graduate) visa.
- As he was in Australia when he made his application, Fred receives a Bridging Visa on 04/02/2020.
- However, that Bridging Visa doesn’t come into effect until his substantive visa (the student visa) expires on 15/03/2020.
- That Bridging Visa then covers the period until his subclass 485 visa is granted.
The key point here is that Fred will continue to be bound by the conditions on his student visa until 15/03/2020.
There are several different Bridging Visas, some of them are really obscure, so this blog will only look at the most common ones.
Bridging Visa A
This is the Bridging Visa that most people get when they submit a valid application for a visa while they are in Australia and hold a substantive visa.
The Bridging Visa A will keep you in Australia lawfully from the moment your old visa expires until the moment your new visa is granted.
The conditions attached to the Bridging Visa A will depend on the visa you held and the visa you are applying for.
Very generally speaking, if you are applying for a temporary visa, then your Bridging Visa A will have the same work rights as the visa you held (there are exceptions to this general rule, an example being the Temporary Graduate Visa).
If you apply for a permanent visa, your Bridging Visa A will have the work rights of the visa you have applied for.
One thing the Bridging Visa A will definitely not do is let you leave Australia and re-enter.
If you are intending to travel while you hold a Bridging Visa A, you need to apply for a Bridging Visa B before you travel.
You should make that application at least two weeks before you intend to travel and allow more time than that at busy periods.
If you applied for your new visa online, you can apply online through IMMI Account or submit a paper application. Online applications are generally processed much more quickly.
If you applied for your new visa using paper application forms, you will need to submit a paper application for a Bridging Visa B .
Bridging Visa B
To apply for a Bridging Visa B you must hold either a Bridging Visa A or a Bridging Visa B.
If you apply for and are granted a Bridging Visa B, it will replace your Bridging Visa A (or your Bridging Visa B if you are applying for one to go on another trip outside Australia).
The Bridging Visa B will have the same conditions as your previous Bridging Visa A or B, but it will allow you to leave and re-enter Australia multiple times within a specified period (usually 3 months, but you can ask for longer if you have a series of trips planned or are likely to need to come and go from Australia regularly, for example for family reasons).
It is very important that you are back in Australia before those travel rights expire. If you aren’t, then you won’t be able to re-enter Australia until either your new visa application is approved (if it is one that can be granted while you are overseas) or you apply for, and are granted, a different type of visa to come to Australia.
Bridging Visa C
This Bridging Visa is most commonly granted to people who make a valid application for a substantive visa while they are in Australia, but at a time when they already hold a Bridging Visa A or B.
Whether or not the Bridging Visa C allows you to work will depend on the type of visa you have applied for.
Generally speaking, if you have applied for a permanent employer sponsored visa or a permanent points tested visa, you will have work rights.
If you have applied for another type of visa, you won’t have work rights and will need to apply for them. To be granted a new Bridging Visa C with work rights, you will need to demonstrate financial hardship which is a tough bar to meet.
The Bridging Visa C does not allow you to leave Australia and re-enter and you cannot apply for a Bridging Visa B while you hold a Bridging Visa C.
If you leave Australia while your Bridging Visa C is in effect, you will either need to wait overseas until your new visa application is approved (assuming that it is one that can be granted while you are overseas) or apply for and be granted a different type of visa to come to Australia.
Bridging Visa E
This Bridging Visa is usually given in two circumstances:
1. Where someone’s substantive visa has expired and they haven’t left Australia and didn’t make a new visa application before their substantive visa expired. ln this scenario, the Department of Home Affairs will normally grant a Bridging Visa E for a limited period to make sure that the person is in Australia lawfully again and to allow the person time to organise their departure from Australia. In this situation, the Bridging Visa E will not have work rights.
2. Where someone has a visa cancelled (for example a subclass 457 or a TSS visa because they have ceased work for their sponsoring employer), but before visa cancellation they submitted another visa application which can be approved while the person is in Australia (for example an application for a Partner visa). In this situation, the Bridging Visa E will be granted until a decision is made on the visa application that is being processed and, depending on the type of visa that has been applied for, the Bridging Visa E may carry work rights (for example, the Bridging Visa E will have work rights if you have applied for an employer sponsored permanent visa), in other circumstances you will need to demonstrate financial hardship to get work rights.
Leaving Australia while holding a Bridging Visa E or more than 28 days after your visa expires can have serious implications for future visa applications and your ability to return to Australia. Please seek professional advice in these circumstances.
This blog is only intended as a very brief overview of the most common types of Bridging Visa and the circumstances in which they are often granted. It is not a substitute for professional advice. If you have questions about your Bridging Visa, you should contact a Registered Migration Agent.
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