The ABC’s of Bridging Visas
Understanding the different types of bridging visas
Bridging visas are issued if you are onshore and have made a valid visa application. Its purpose is to allow you to lawfully remain in Australia until your visa decision.
Receipt of a bridging visa does not mean that your current visa has been overridden. It will only come into effect when your current substantive visa expires, which means that you will be bound to the conditions on your current visa to the point of its expiry.
Bridging visas have conditions too! If the conditions on your bridging visa are better than that of your current visa, such as having work rights, you cannot force the end of your current visa.
Supposing you are currently on a student visa but have lodged an application for say, a skilled independent 189 visa, and have been granted a bridging visa A with full work rights. However, you still have a year left of school and as such your student visa has not expired. You will still be bound by the conditions of your student visa; you will still need to go to school and you will not be able to work more than 40 works a fortnight
Getting your current visa cancelled will result in a termination of your bridging visa as well which will render you instantly unlawful. This will make future applications very challenging.Moral of the story: Don’t put yourself in a situation where you are liable to have your visa cancelled; don’t do things you are not supposed to – never worth the risk.The main applicant’s bridging visa conditions might differ to that of secondary applicants. It is important for each bridging visa grant notification to be read individually.
Bridging Visa A (BVA)
Numero uno on the list is bridging visa A. BVAs do not need to be applied for if you have made a valid substantive visa application. A visa grant (yay for you!) will instantly and automatically replace your bridging visa and a refused application will result in the expiry of your bridging visa in 28 days; you will have 28 days from the refusal notification to make arrangements to depart Australia unless you lodge a review. Read our article Seeking A Review With The AAT. If you choose to go to review, your bridging visa will remain intact until you are notified of the outcome of your review. If you withdraw your application, your bridging visa will have 28 days remaining from the date of withdrawal.
Your BVA does not have any travel rights. If you leave Australia on a BVA, you will not be able to return unless you have applied for another substantive visa. Please read about bridging visa B, which does permit you to travel out of Australia and return.
Your BVA may or may not hold work rights. You will need to read your BVA grant notification letter to find out. If you have compelling reasons to work, you may apply for this limitation to be lifted.
Read: Applying For Work Rights
You will lose this visa if you leave Australia or if you breach any of the conditions applied to it.
Bridging Visa B (BVB)
This is the visa you need if you need to travel away from Australia whilst waiting for your visa decision. You can only apply for this visa is you are holding on to a BVA. If there is family involved, only a single application needs to be filled.
The information you need for a BVB application will include travel dates, where you’re heading off to and why. If your BVB is granted, it will be active for a specified period and so long as your travel is limited to this period you will be able to return to Australia. You will lose your BVB (and BVA) if you leave Australia before or after the travel period, or are still outside of Australia when you travel period ends. You will need to apply for a new BVB should your dates change.
The BVB takes over your BVA only for that specified period. It is your BVA + travel facility, so if you had work rights, you will continue to have work rights, if you did not, you would still not. Your BVA will be back in force at the end of the BVB. You will not need to reapply for a BVA. There is an application fee for the BVB of $140. The BVB should be applied for no more than 3 months before your travel dates and no later than 2 weeks prior and you should expect to receive a decision within 7 business days.
Bridging Visa C (BVC)
As we head past the BVB, bridging visas get progressively more restrictive . It’s all downhill from here! The BVC is granted in situations where you have applied for a substantive visa but you current are not on a substantive visa. This would mean that you are either on a bridging visa and applied for a different visa or are here unlawfully. If it is the former situation, your BVC will come into effect only on expiry of your BVA. If it is the latter, you may receive a BVC only if you have not held a bridging visa E since your last substantive visa.
The BVC has the same expiry structure as the BVA, 28 days after the date on the visa refusal notification or after an unsuccessful review decision and so forth.
You cannot travel on this visa and you cannot apply for a BVB to travel. If you leave, you would be facing a three year ban from applying for a visa to return to Australia. You cannot even come back on a tourist visa! Read this article Could You Be Facing A Three Year Ban From Returning
Your BVC may or may not hold work rights. You will need to read your BVA grant notification letter to find out. If you have compelling reasons to work, you may apply for this ban to be lifted.
Bridging Visa D (BVD)
The BVD is a visa that is rarely seen. It is most likely if you are in a situation where you are unlawful or about to become an unlawful non-citizen, that you will be in a bridging visa E. Just to satisfy your curiosity, the BVD allows you to stay here lawfully for a short period until you are able to make a substantive visa application (Bridging (Prospective Applicant) Visa (Subclass 040)) or for you to remain lawful for you to make arrangements to leave (Bridging (Non-Applicant) Visa (Subclass 041)). You cannot travel on this visa and you cannot apply for a BVB to travel. If you leave, you will face a 3 year ban from applying for another substantive visa.
Bridging Visa E (BVE)
What are you doing! The BVE is for those who are unlawfully residing in Australia. It allows you to remain until an immigration matter is resolved or make arrangements to leave (Bridging (General) Visa (Subclass 050).This visa exists for those who unlawful and are:
- Making arrangements to depart Australia
- Applying for a substantive visa (there are few that you would eligible to apply for as an unlawful non-citizen)
- Seeking merits of judicial review of a visa decision or citizenship decision
- Seeking ministerial intervention
You cannot travel on this visa and you cannot apply for a BVB to travel. If you leave, you will face a 3 year ban from applying for another substantive visa.
You may or may not have work rights on your BVE. Your grant letter will tell you if you are allowed to work. If you work when you are not allowed to, your BVE may be cancelled and you may be detained. You could also be removed from Australia. You may be able to apply for work rights with compelling reasons.
So those are bridging visas in a nutshell. A and B is good, C is alright, D and E is bad. Really bad. The conditions that will result in your being issued bridging visas D or E are really quite complex and we expect that you only land those bridging visas due to genuine complications and not due to negligence. We hope that in writing this article you are aware of the consequences you might face if you do not give your visa situation a good amount of respect. If you are worried about visa cancellations or being in a situation where you would be unlawfully residing in Australia for even a second, you will need to speak to an experienced and qualified migration agent. We don’t recommend, we insist! These are no-joking-matter situations.