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Bridging Visas Australia

January 21, 2024

Australian bridging visas serve a specific function within the country’s immigration framework. They are designed as temporary solutions to allow individuals to lawfully remain in Australia while their immigration status is being resolved. Several types of bridging visas exist, each with distinct conditions and eligibility criteria. The purpose of these visas is to ‘bridge’ the gap between an expiring visa and the decision on an applicant’s subsequent visa application, ensuring the individual does not fall into an unlawful status.

Given the complexity of immigration processes, bridging visas are critical for applicants awaiting the outcome of their visa applications, those making arrangements to depart Australia, or those finalising their immigration matters. The various categories, including Bridging Visas A, B, C, and E, cater to different circumstances such as whether an individual is currently in Australia, needs to travel before their application is resolved, or is dealing with specific administrative issues.

The conditions and rights associated with each bridging visa vary. For example, some may allow the holder to work or study in Australia, while others may restrict these activities. Understanding the requirements and limitations of each bridging visa type is crucial for visa holders to maintain their legal status and comply with Australian immigration law. With a record number of bridging visa holders present in Australia, awareness and clarity on these visas have become increasingly important.

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Key Types of Bridging Visas

  • Bridging Visa A (BVA) – Subclass 010: Allows the holder to remain in Australia after their current substantive visa expires and while their new substantive visa application is being processed.
  • Bridging Visa B (BVB) – Subclass 020: Similar to the BVA, but also grants travel rights, permitting holders to re-enter Australia within a specified travel period.
  • Bridging Visa C (BVC) – Subclass 030: Issued to people who are unlawful non-citizens (those without a valid visa) but have applied for a substantive visa.
  • Bridging Visa D (BVD) – Subclass 040/041: Allows individuals who are unlawful non-citizens to stay lawfully in Australia for a short period while they make arrangements to depart, finalize their immigration matter, or await an immigration decision.
  • Bridging Visa E (BVE) – Subclass 050/051: Provides lawful status to non-citizens who are out of immigration compliance, allowing them to make arrangements to leave or resolve their immigration status.
Bridging Visa Key Feature Cost Processing Time Work Rights Travel Rights
Bridging Visa A (BVA) – Subclass 010 Allows lawful stay during visa processing Generally no cost Varies Conditional No
Bridging Visa B (BVB) – Subclass 020 Allows travel while awaiting decision Varies Varies As per previous visa Yes, within specified period
Bridging Visa C (BVC) – Subclass 030 For applicants without a substantive visa Generally no cost Varies Must apply separately No
Bridging Visa D (BVD) – Subclass 041 Short-term resolution for unlawful non-citizens Generally no cost Varies No No
Bridging Visa E (BVE) – Subclass 050/051 For resolving immigration matters or arranging departure Generally no cost Varies Must apply separately No

Processing Times

The processing times for bridging visas can vary greatly and are heavily dependent on the specifics of the applicant’s circumstances as well as the workload of the immigration authorities.

Cost of Bridging Visas

  • Bridging Visa A: Generally, no cost is associated with the BVA when it is granted in association with a substantive visa application.
  • Bridging Visa B: There is a fee for the BVB since it includes the right to depart and return to Australia.
  • Bridging Visa C, D and E: Typically, there is no charge for these visas, but the cost may be influenced by individual circumstances, such as if the applicant previously held or applied for a substantive visa.

Eligibility and Application Process

In navigating the landscape of Australian immigration, understanding the specific requirements and application procedures for bridging visas is crucial for prospective applicants who wish to maintain lawful status while awaiting decisions on their substantive visa applications or resolving their immigration status.

Requirements for Eligibility

Bridging visas serve as a temporary solution, allowing individuals to legally remain in Australia when their current substantive visa is no longer valid. The eligibility for a bridging visa hinges on the following:

  • The applicant must be in Australia and hold a current visa, the end of which necessitates an interim legal status.
  • A valid application for a substantive visa must have been lodged, or the applicant must be making arrangements to depart Australia or resolve their visa status if they have overstayed.
  • The conditions of the previous visa, including any mandatory reporting or compliance requirements, must have been adhered to, as these will inform the eligibility for a bridging visa.
australian bridging visas

Application Steps and Documentation

The procedure for securing a bridging visa involves several steps, each requiring attention to detail and accurate documentation.

  1. Compile Required Documents: Prepare identification documents, evidence of the visa currently held, and, if applicable, proof of the substantive visa application or appeal documents.
  2. Online Submission: Applications for Bridging visa A, B, or C must typically be completed online via the Australian immigration website or relevant authorised platforms.
  3. Review and Submit: After thoroughly reviewing the application and ensuring complete and accurate information, submit it along with any relevant fees that may apply.

Applicants must ensure they meet all criteria and provide the correct documentation to avoid delays or rejections of their bridging visa applications. This process is intended to prevent applicants from becoming unlawful non-citizens due to expired visas during their stay in Australia.

Rights and Restrictions

When considering bridging visas in Australia, one must understand the specific rights and restrictions attached to each visa type. These can greatly impact a visa holder’s ability to work and travel as well as their obligation to comply with the various conditions imposed.

Work Rights

A bridging visa serves as a temporary legal status while an individual awaits a decision on their substantive visa application or a court ruling. However, not all bridging visas carry the same rights.

  • BVA: Work rights on a BVA depend on the conditions of the visa that was held before the BVA was granted. If the previous visa had work rights, the BVA usually will too. If the BVA is granted without work rights, the visa holder can apply for work rights if they can demonstrate financial hardship.
  • BVB: Work rights for a BVB are generally the same as the BVA
  • BVC: Work rights are not automatically granted with a BVC. The visa holder may apply for permission to work if they can demonstrate financial hardship.
  • BVD: No work rights.
  • BVE: Work rights are not automatically granted with a BVE. The visa holder may apply for work rights, but they must provide evidence of financial hardship.

Travel Rights

Travel rights for different Australian bridging visas vary, and they are an important aspect to consider, as not all bridging visas allow the holder to re-enter Australia if they leave. Here is an overview of travel rights for each type of bridging visa:

  1. Bridging Visa A (BVA) – Subclass 010:
    • A BVA does not allow the holder to return to Australia if they depart. It is only valid while the holder is in Australia.
    • If a BVA holder wishes to travel overseas and return to Australia, they must apply for and be granted a Bridging Visa B (BVB) before they leave.
  2. Bridging Visa B (BVB) – Subclass 020:
    • A BVB specifically allows the holder to travel outside Australia and return within a specified travel period while their substantive visa application is being processed.
    • The travel period is determined when the BVB is granted and will be noted on the visa grant notice. It’s important to return to Australia within the specified travel period to maintain lawful status.
  3. Bridging Visa C (BVC) – Subclass 030:
    • A BVC does not allow the holder to return to Australia if they depart. There are no travel rights attached to this visa.
    • BVC holders who wish to travel must resolve their immigration status and apply for a substantive visa that allows travel or apply for a BVB if eligible.
  4. Bridging Visa D (BVD) – Subclass 041:
    • A BVD does not provide travel rights. It is a short-term visa to allow individuals to maintain lawful status while they make arrangements to depart Australia or resolve their immigration status.
    • Holders of a BVD cannot leave and re-enter Australia on this visa.
  5. Bridging Visa E (BVE) – Subclass 050 and 051:
    • A BVE does not provide travel rights. It is meant for individuals who are resolving their immigration status or making arrangements to leave Australia.
    • BVE holders cannot leave and re-enter Australia on this visa.

Processes and Procedures

Australian bridging visas are managed by the Department of Home Affairs, ensuring that individuals remain lawfully in Australia while their immigration status is in transition. The processes involved include rigorous review and appeals mechanisms, as well as provisions for instances requiring ministerial intervention or immigration detention.

Review and Appeals

When an immigration decision is made by the Department of Home Affairs, individuals have the right to seek a review of the decision if they believe it to be incorrect. The first step is usually to apply for a review with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), which has the power to uphold, change, or overturn the department’s decision. The AAT must be approached within a specified time frame after the visa decision.

If the AAT decision remains unsatisfactory, individuals may opt for judicial review where matters are escalated to a higher court. This process is reserved for examining the lawfulness of a decision process rather than its merits. Non-applicants, who are not direct parties to the decision, may face limitations in seeking review or appeal.

Immigration Detention and Ministerial Intervention

Individuals found to be non-compliant with their visa conditions may be subject to immigration detention. In such cases, the person can apply for a bridging visa to regularise their status. However, if all legal avenues have been exhausted, one may seek ministerial intervention. This special provision allows the Minister for Immigration to grant a visa for non-compellable reasons relating to unique or exceptional circumstances, such as matters of protection or public interest.

Ministerial intervention is considered as a last resort and is at the sole discretion of the Minister. It is applicable only to those who have had their case reviewed by the AAT and is not a substitute for the standard immigration process.

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