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bridging visaImmigration

What is a bridging visa, and what’s the difference between them?

By April 1, 2021November 18th, 202110 Comments

australian resident visa

Foreign residents in Australia normally hold “substantive visas” with clear expiry dates. A substantive visa is any visa which is not a bridging visa or a criminal justice visa or an enforcement visa. When people normally mention that they are holding a visa (e.g. a Visitor visa, a TSS visa, a Partner visa) they are usually referring to a substantive visa.

However, in some cases a foreign resident will remain in Australia outside of the expiry date of their substantive visa. This can be because they overstayed and became unlawful or because they are lawfully awaiting the processing of a further visa. Bridging visas can be granted to allow such individuals to remain in Australia whilst they are waiting for an application to be processed, or to provide lawful status while they make arrangements to depart the country.

What are the different types of bridging visas?

There are nine types of bridging visas in Australia, though the four most common are:

  1. Bridging Visa A (Subclass 010) (BVA);
  2. Bridging Visa B (Subclass 020) (BVB);
  3. Bridging Visa C (Subclass 020) (BVC); and
  4. Bridging Visa E (Subclass 050) (BVE).

A BVA is designed to provide lawful status in Australia to a non-citizen who has applied for a substantive visa while they are in Australia and holding a substantive visa. The BVA will then allow a person to remain in Australia:

  1. during the processing of their associated substantive visa application until it is finally determined (including any merits review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT)); or
  2. during judicial review proceedings relating to their associated substantive visa application until the proceedings are completed.

Note that a BVA allows the holder to remain lawfully in Australia but it does not allow the holder to travel to and re-enter Australia if they depart. If travel is required whilst holding a BVA, an individual should apply for a BVB (see below).

A BVA application is usually automatically made with the substantive visa application, but can also be made by separate application. For more detailed eligibility requirements please refer to the Migration Regulations 1994 (Cth).

Example:

Zion holds a Student (Subclass 500) (Student) visa which has one more month of validity. Zion has completed his course and is eligible for a Graduate (Subclass 485) (Graduate) visa but he is concerned that his Graduate visa won’t be processed prior to his current Student visa expiry. By lodging the Graduate visa using the online form whilst onshore, he is automatically granted a BVA. This BVA will allow him to remain in Australia whilst his Graduate visa is processing.

The purpose of a BVB is to allow the holder of a BVA / BVB to depart and re-enter Australia for a specified period. A separate application for a BVB must be made showing the “substantial reasons for leaving and re-entering Australia”. On return, the BVB will permit the holder to remain in Australia until:

  1. the processing of their associated substantive visa application (including any merits review by the AAT; or
  2. completion of their judicial review proceedings relating to their associated substantive visa application.

Example:

Zion is the holder of a BVA on the basis of making a valid Graduate visa application whilst onshore, which is still processing. It’s been 6 months since his Student visa expired but he wants to go back to New Orleans to see his brother Brandon who is getting married. In order to make sure he can re-enter Australia, he applies for a BVB prior to departing Australia. Once the BVB is granted, he travels to New Orleans for the celebrations. He is sure to return to Australia before the expiry period. Upon return, he continues to hold a BVB which will allow him to remain in Australia until visa processing is completed, but to travel again he would need to apply for a further BVB.

The purpose of a BVC is to provide lawful status in Australia to a person who is not the holder of a substantive visa, but has made a valid substantive visa application of a type that can be granted in Australia some time after their last substantive visa expired. The BVC will then allow a non-citizen to remain in Australia:

  1. during the processing of their associated substantive visa application until it is finally determined, including any merits review by the AAT; or
  2. during judicial review proceedings relating to their associated substantive visa application.

It’s important to note that the BVC does not have travel rights. If you choose to leave Australia for any reason, you will not be permitted back in. You also are unable to apply for a BVB to allow you to obtain travel rights whilst holding a BVC. A BVC will also not have work rights unless you have applied for one of these visas:

  1. a Business Skills — Business Talent (Permanent) (Class EA) visa; or
  2. a Business Skills (Provisional) (Class EB) visa; or
  3. a Business Skills (Permanent) (Class EC) visa; or
  4. an Employer Nomination (Permanent) (Class EN) visa;
  5. a Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) (Class PE) visa;
  6. a Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) (Class PS) visa;
  7. a Regional Employer Nomination (Permanent) (Class RN) visa; or
  8. a Skilled — Independent (Permanent) (Class SI) visa; or
  9. a Skilled — Nominated (Permanent) (Class SN) visa; or
  10. a Skilled — Regional Sponsored (Provisional) (Class SP) visa.

In certain cases, a further BVC can be applied for with work rights if an applicant can demonstrate a “compelling need to work”. Contact us directly if you think you have such a need.

Example:

Zion has been in a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen for more than 12 months, so rather than apply for a graduate visa, he decided he would lodge an onshore Partner (Subclass 820 / 801) (Partner) visa application. Due to an error in remembering the dates, Zion forgets to submit his Partner visa application prior to his Student visa expiring. Although he becomes unlawful, he applies for a valid Partner visa the day following his expiry and subsequently obtains a BVC to allow him to remain in Australia. However, Zion’s BVC doesn’t have work rights. Zion has a job offer to play basketball for an NBL team but without work rights he is unable to pay for rent, food or his stay in Australia. He subsequently applies for a separate BVC with a submission for a “compelling need to work”.

A BVE is intended to allow an unlawful non-citizen who is an eligible non-citizen to lawfully remain in Australia temporarily for a specific purpose. An eligible non-citizen for a BVE application purpose includes:

  1. a person who has been immigration cleared;
  2. a person who bypassed or was refused immigration clearance on or after 1 September 1994, has not since been granted a substantive visa or entry permit and has not come to notice within 45 days of entering Australia;
  3. a person who last held a student visa that was cancelled under s137J and has been refused immigration clearance. It’s important to note that the BVE does not have travel rights.

The following table sets out when a BVE may be appropriate:

Circumstances
Purpose
A person presents to the department voluntarily as an unlawful non-citizen or located by compliance action as an unlawful non-citizen To enable the applicant to make arrangements to leave Australia, or await final determination of a substantive visa application made in Australia, or otherwise resolve their immigration status
A person has had a visa refused, or is a family member of the applicant To enable the applicant or the Minister to seek merits or judicial review of that visa refusal
A person has had a visa cancelled, or is a member of the family unit of the applicant To enable the applicant to pursue merits or judicial review of the decision to cancel that visa
A person who has had a visa refusal or cancellation decision affirmed by a review authority To enable the applicant to request the Minister substitute a more favourable decision under s351, s391, s417 or s454 of the Act
A person who has previously had a protection visa refused To enable the applicant to request the Minister to make a determination under s48B to allow a further protection visa application be made.
A person who has had a student visa automatically cancelled, or is a member of the family unit of the applicant

To enable the applicant:

  • to pursue an application for revocation of cancellation or
  • if an application for revocation is unsuccessful, to seek merits review of the decision to not revoke cancellation
A person who is in criminal detention To enable lawful status during criminal detention.
A person who has had an application for citizenship refused, or is a member of the family unit of the applicant To enable the applicant to seek merits or judicial review of an application
A person who is an unauthorised maritime arrival (formerly irregular maritime arrival (IMA) or offshore entry person (OEP)) or irregular air arrivals (IAAs) released into the community under s195A  visa grant by the Minister To allow UMAs/IAAs to apply for a protection visa.

It’s important to note that the BVE does not have travel rights. If you choose to leave Australia for any reason, you will not be permitted back in. You also are unable to apply for a BVB to allow you to obtain travel rights whilst holding a BVE.

A BVE will also not have work rights unless in certain cases, an applicant can demonstrate a “compelling need to work”. Contact us directly if you think you have such a need.

Example:

Zion’s de facto relationship broke down and his Partner visa was refused. He is distraught and stays in Australia despite the expiry date on his BVC. He has now been unlawful for 6 months whilst hoping to rekindle his relationship. After much thought, he decides it is time to move on and return to New Orleans to play basketball. He presents himself to the Department voluntarily as an unlawful non-citizen and notifies them that he intends to return home. The Department issues him with a BVE to allow him to do so.

What is a compelling need to work?

In certain cases, even if your Bridging Visa does not have work rights, you may be able to apply for a further Bridging Visa of the same class with work rights if you can demonstrate a “compelling need to work”.

The Migration Regulations (1994) (Cth) (Regulations) defines that a non-citizen has a compelling need to work if and only if:

  1. he or she is in financial hardship; or
  2. is an applicant for a Temporary Business Entry (Class UC) visa who seeks to satisfy the criteria for the grant of a Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled)) visa, has been identified in an approved nomination, and appears to satisfy the criteria for the grant of that visa.

What is financial hardship?

Generally, a person can be taken to be in financial hardship if the cost of reasonable living expenses exceeds their ability to pay for them.

Do you require further assistance?

If you find yourself unlawful, or have questions about your immigration status after a substantive visa expires, reach out to our experienced team on (03) 9016 0484 or book a consultation online.

This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult an immigration professional for up to date information.
Mihan Hannan

Author Mihan Hannan

Formerly a Senior Associate in one of Australia’s most reputable immigration litigation and review practices, Mihan is solutions focused and well versed in all aspects of Australian immigration law. Mihan also has a subscription addiction, being obsessed with tools to improve the firms immigration work flow.

More posts by Mihan Hannan

Join the discussion 10 Comments

  • Mj says:

    Hi Mihan. Hope all’s well with all of you. Please help. Im on a bridging visa A with full working rights at the moment and working in an aged care which is a critical sector but prior to that i came here as tourist then applied for student visa but got refused. I did apply for appeal at the AAT but still refused. Now, my BVA is expiring next month. I am just wondering if can i apply for covid visa despite not having a substantive visa before my bva expires next month? Please advise. do i have any other visa options? Thank you admin.

    • admin says:

      Hi MJ,
      Thanks for reaching out to us.
      Unfortunately the 408 visa requires you to have applying for it within 28 days of the date when the last substantive visa held ceased to be in effect. Assuming you’ve had your Student visa was refused more than 28 days ago this is not available to you and you will most likely need to apply for a BVE. If you want to explore options, feel free to contact us at [email protected]
      Kind regard,
      Hannan Tew

  • Jenil Patel says:

    Hi Mihan,
    Currently I am living in Sydney on a 482 TSS Sponsored visa valid for one year till 07 Jan, 2022. I want to apply for student visa and live here. At the same time, my employer asked me to leave in next 2 weeks (2nd october) as project schedule is changed and they don’t need my service any longer. Lets say I lodged student visa application and got a bridging visa before the day they asked me to leave. So as I have the bridging visa, I can live here. But if sponsors cancel my 482 visa, can I still stay here till I get the student visa?

    • admin says:

      Hi Jenil,
      Thanks for your comment.
      Technically, the Department could take steps to cancel your visa after you have ceased employment for more than 60 days. The process is that they would usually write to you and a consideration would be why you should not have your visa cancelled. If in the unlikely case that were to occur, you could explain that you had applied for a Student visa to change your circumstances.
      Bottom line is your TSS visa is unlikely to be cancelled as long as you apply for that Student visa within 60 days.
      Feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you’d like further information.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

  • katrin.b says:

    Hi Mihan,
    My fiance has a permanent residence in Australia and I am here with a tourist visa to visit him. If I apply for partner visa here, can I stay in Australia with BVA for the period that my application being processed?

    • admin says:

      Hi Katrin,
      Just double check that your Visitor visa doesn’t have a “no further stay condition”. If so, and you meet the requirements for an onshore Partner visa application, by lodging one before your current visa expires you should be able to get a Bridging Visa A which will allow you to remain in Australia during processing. This BVA should also have full work rights and grant access to Medicare.
      Feel free to contact us at [email protected] if you want to clarify or require further information.
      Good luck!
      Hannan Tew

  • Mohd says:

    Hello, I have a question about a confusing situation.
    Suppose a Ph.D. student is granted a bridging visa (supposedly type A) due to the expiration of his/her student visa while he/she is under thesis examination. The student has a job offer for a postdoctoral position in Australia and he/she wants to apply for a graduate visa 485 right after conferring the degree. What kind of bridging visa he/she would receive when applying for a graduate visa while still on the previous bridging visa? Can the student start his/her job with the new bridging visa?

    Now, let us change the scenario: If the student is still on a student visa (the visa has not expired yet) and applies for a graduate visa 485 right after conferring the degree. What kind of bridging visa he/she would receive when applying for a graduate visa? Can the student start his/her job with the new bridging visa?

    I am confused with various narrations about these situations. I appreciate it if you provide a clarification.

  • Mami says:

    Greetings!
    We applied for an Aged Parent Visa (Subclass 804). It was acknowledged as a valid application and we were granted Bridging Visas.
    Here’s the situation.
    Our last substantive visa expired on 31 October 2021. Our application was sent on post by our agent on 28 October 2021.
    We are issued the Bridging Visa C with application date 3 November 2021, which was past the effectivity of our last substantive visa.
    Questions:
    1. Can we ask for reconsideration from the Department of Home Affairs to reconsider the date of filing as the date of posting? This spells the difference between getting a BVA and a BVC.
    2. If Australian policy dictates that the grant of BVC applies to our case but then we left Australia to travel. We understand that we need to apply for a Visitor Visa to reenter Australia. However, Visitor visas are generally valid for just 3 months each visit. Can we apply for another BVC?
    3. If by luck we were granted the BVA and then we left Australia without applying for a BVB. We understand that we need to apply for Visitor Visa to reenter Australia. In that situation, can we reinstate the BVA when we return to Australia?
    Thank you

    • admin says:

      Hi Mami,
      Thanks for reaching out.
      Unfortunately all applications look at time of receipt (not posting) so you can’t ask the BVC to be switched to a BVA.
      For the other questions, it can get complicated, so feel free to contact us at [email protected] to arrange for a consultation.
      Kind regards,
      Hannan Tew

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