A ‘bridging visa’ is a temporary visa, allowing you (a non-citizen) to stay in Australia lawfully in situations where you would otherwise be unlawful. You may be eligible for a bridging visa (BV) if:
- You have lodged an application for a substantive visa, and it is being processed by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) but your substantive visa has expired. You will be granted a bridging visa while your visa application is being accessed.
- Your current visa has been cancelled or your application for a substantive visa has been refused, you are in Australia and you have applied for a merits or judicial review of the decision. You will be granted a BV while your case is being reviewed if DIAC does not feel it necessary to keep you in immigration detention.
- Your substantive visa has expired and you are making arrangements to leave Australia. You will be granted a bridging visa so that you can make these arrangements but you will be required to leave Australia as soon as possible.
There are five different bridging visas:
- Bridging Visa A – for those who hold a substantive visa and apply for another substantive visa;
- Bridging Visa B – the ‘travel’ bridging visa;
- Bridging Visa C – for those who don’t hold a substantive visa, have made an application for a substantive visa and have not been located by DIAC;
- Bridging Visa D – for those who are unlawful, but are wanting to make a substantive visa application, or for those who are unlawful and do not wish to make a visa application but need a few days to organize departure;
- Bridging Visa E – for those who are unlawful, are known to DIAC and either hold a Bridging Visa D or previously held a Bridging Visa E.
Generally, a BV will have the same conditions as your last substantive visa. So, for example, most student visas have a 40 hour per fortnight work restriction, with unlimited work rights outside of the semesters. These conditions will apply to people who have been granted a BV after their student visa has expired. In practice, if you had already finished your course this would mean that you have unlimited work rights.
You should note that there are certain situations where you cannot obtain a BV.
What do I have to do to get a bridging visa?
Most people will be granted a BV without needing to make an application, if they find themselves in one of the above three mentioned situations. For example, if you apply for a subclass 820 Partner visa, your visa application will also be considered an application for a BV as well, and you will be generally be granted a bridging visa A. DIAC will advise that you have been granted a BV when they acknowledge receipt of your visa application.
There are situations, however, where you may have to make a separate application for a BV. Generally, if you require a bridging visa D or E, you will need to apply separately. For example, if you are applying for a merits review of your visa cancellation or you are unlawful and are attempting to make a substantive visa application but you need more time, you will need to put in an application.
When will my bridging visa come into effect?
If you currently hold a substantive visa, your BV will only come into effect once your current visa has expired. In most other circumstances, a BV will come into effect as soon as it is granted.
A BV is usually valid until either you are granted a substantive visa, or a decision has been made to refuse your visa application and 28 days have lapsed. BV holders therefore normally have 28 days once their substantive visa application has been refused to leave Australia before they become unlawful.
What if I have no work rights?
Some BV (for example bridging visa C) will not have work rights attached. If you need to work, you can apply separately to DIAC for permission. There is no application fee for this – you will only need to fill in an application form.
What if I want to travel?
A Bridging Visa B is the only BV that allows overseas travel. If you wish to travel, you will need to apply separately and pay a fee for a bridging visa B. This is a temporary 3 month BV, and it is usually granted on the spot. If you are planning to travel, you should ensure you apply for a Bridging Visa B around 2 weeks beforehand. If you do travel and you do not come back to Australia within the expiry date of your bridging visa B, you will not be legally allowed to re-enter Australia.