Got Travel Plans? Want to Go Home for Christmas? Bridging Visas Explained!

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It’s that time of the year. All the shops are decked out, the streets adorned with lights and festive decors! For most people, school work and office work are on hold. It makes us think about families, the possibility of travels, holidays and the like.

But hang on, before you book that ticket, make sure you are eligible to travel out of Australia. The last thing you want is having to worry about not being eligible to come back into Australia legally after that awesome break!

Time to get our heads around Bridging Visas! Bridging visas are just that, a bridge between two visas. It can only be granted onshore. It allows the holder to be lawful in Australia while trying to sort out another substantive visa application or while dealing with other immigration matters such as merits review.

There are 7 different types of bridging visas (BV) but we will only discuss the 5 most commonly talked about.

Bridging Visa A - The most popular of them is the Bridging Visa A (BVA). This visa is granted to those who have kept their stay in Australia lawful at all times. They have applied for another substantive visa before their previous visa expired. For example, a person who is in Australia on a tourist visa lodged a valid application for another visa, say a student visa before the tourist visa expires. If a decision for the student visa is not made and the visitor visa expires, the BVA will come into effect automatically to provide the holder a lawful stay in Australia while waiting for the student visa to be finalised.

Bridging Visa B - This BV is deemed as the most beneficial type of BV. It is only available to those who already hold a BVA or BVB.  This is the type of BV you need to arranged for if you wish to travel out of Australia while being a holder of a BV. It is not automatically granted. You must apply for it and it attracts a certain fee.  Let’s take the case of an International student who completed their studies in Australia and had validly applied for another substantive visa, say, subclass 485 visa, before the student visa ceased.  Let’s assume the student in this case has a student visa expiring in 3 days but managed to lodge a valid visa application for subclass 485 before those 3 days lapsed. The student will automatically be granted a BVA associated with their valid subclass 485 visa application. This BVA will take affect once the previous student visa expired, keeping the applicant lawful in Australia while waiting for the outcome of the Subclass 485 visa application. Don’t get confused! A misconception quite common is that people say “Oh, I have a BVA, I can go out leave Australia while my 485 application is under process and can come back anytime.” No, this BVA does not allow you to return to Australia if you leave. You must apply for BVB to travel otherwise you could find yourself in trouble when trying to enter back into Australia. BVA is only in effect while you are in Australia waiting (in this case) for the outcome of your subclass 485 visa. Once you leave Australia, it ceases.

Bridging Visa C - This BV is for those who are in Australia and have become unlawful but have not been detected by the DHA. A classic case would be a tourist visa who had overstayed their visa and then seek to apply for another substantive visa such as a partner visa. BVC will be granted to allow them to stay in Australia while waiting for the outcome of their partner visa application. This BV comes with mandatory no work condition. This can however be waived under certain circumstances.

Bridging Visa D - This visa is for those who have made an application for a substantive visa but has been notified by the department that such application was deemed invalid. This allows the visa holder a short time to try and rectify the invalid visa application or make arrangements to depart Australia.

Bridging Visa E - This BV is for persons who have been unlawful in Australia and had come to the attention of the Department. For example, a student who claims to have lost his passport and unaware of his student visa validity, goes to the department to inquire about it, not knowing whether the student visa is still valid or not. If at the time he’s with the Department they found out that his student visa had already expired, this student will be issued a BVE.  Those who have had their visas cancelled under the Migration Act will also be granted BE. Another scenario where a BVE could be granted is when a person wishes to seek Ministerial Intervention.

Additional requirements do apply to those awaiting a decision on their subclass 845 visa when applying for BVB. They must be able to satisfy the Department that their intended travel is a work requirement or that there is a major family event that must not be missed.

Hence, before you head off to that overseas trip, make sure that you have applied and have been granted a BVB if you wish to return to Australia legally without much hassles.  Of all these bridging visas describe, BVB is the only one that allows the holder to leave Australia and re-enter Australia on the specified time.

*Disclaimer: This is a general information on Bridging visas and it is not to be taken as formal advice on your specific situation.

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