Bridging visas in Australia are simply transitory visas which permit you to remain in Australia for a certain period of time. Generally, bridging visas follow the expiration of your current substantive visa, such as a Student Visa, while waiting for an application for another substantive visa to be processed.
Bridging visas can be granted in the following circumstances:
Your original visa has expired and you are waiting for the application of a substantive visa to be finalised;
You have applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal of a decision on a visa refusal or cancellation;
There is a court appeal on a decision about your visa that you are waiting on;
You have requested for a Ministerial Intervention; and
You have been an unlawful non-citizen and are making arrangements to depart Australia voluntarily.
There are six bridging visa types which all have slightly different entitlements attached to them. Generally, your migration status previous to being granted a bridging visa will affect the bridging visa type you are granted as well as the rights which are attached to the bridging visa.
Types of bridging visas in Australia
Bridging Visa A subclass 010 (BVA)
The Bridging Visa A or BVA is granted when you make an application for a visa while you are in Australia and currently the holder of a valid visa. The Bridging Visa A allows you to remain in Australia after the expiry of your substantive visa while you wait for a decision.
In circumstances where you are in Australia as the holder of a Bridging Visa A and your visa application has been refused, you have 28 days to depart Australia. If you appeal the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, your Bridging Visa A will be automatically extended to allow the Tribunal to make a decision.
Under the Migration Act 1958 and the Migration Regulations 1994, a Bridging Visa A entitles you to travel anywhere within Australia but you are not entitled to depart Australia and then return. If you wish to travel overseas and return to Australia while waiting for a decision on your visa application, you should apply for a Bridging Visa B.
The Bridging Visa A also allows the holder to reside in Australia and gives the holder work and study permissions based upon the substantive visa they previously held. For example, if you held a Student Visa at the time you applied for a different substantive visa while in Australia, you will be granted a Bridging Visa A with the same work and study conditions as your Student Visa.
Infographic showing Bridging Visas A
A Bridging Visa A is granted upon the Department of Home Affairs receiving a valid application for a new visa while you are the holder of a substantive visa. The Bridging Visa A will not come into effect until your substantive visa ends. Once the application for the new visa is finalised, the Bridging Visa A ends.
It is important to read your bridging visa grant notice carefully to ensure you are informed of all of your rights.
The circumstances in which you are eligible for a Bridging Visa A are as follows:
You must be in Australia when you apply for a substantive visa while you hold a substantive visa. The substantive visa application operates as an application for the Bridging Visa A if you meet this requirement; and
The visa you applied for is one that can be granted in Australia. This means that it is not a requirement for you to depart Australia before the visa can be granted; or
You made an application for a visa in Australia and that visa application has been refused but you have appealed that decision within the statutory time limits.
It is important to remember that a Bridging Visa A is generally granted at the same time that you make a successful application for a valid visa. This means you will usually get two letters, one that acknowledges receipt of your visa application and another which contains your Bridging Visa A details. This letter will state that your Bridging Visa A will only come into effect or ‘activated’ once your current visa expires.
For example, you hold visa 1 and apply for visa 2. Upon application, you are granted a Bridging Visa A. Visa 1 expires and then your Bridging Visa A comes into effect until a decision is made on visa 2. If visa 1 does not expire in the time it takes for the Department of Home Affairs to make a decision to grant visa 2, then you will not have been on a Bridging Visa at all.
Bridging Visa B subclass 020 (BVB)
A Bridging Visa B or BVB is a bridging visa which grants the holder a right to travel. Bridging Visas B come with a ‘travel authority’ and ‘travel period’ which means you have permission to travel outside Australia and return, provided it is within the period of time stated on the bridging visa grant notice.
A Bridging Visa B can be granted in the circumstances where you currently hold a Bridging Visa A or B and it is in effect or will be at the time of your intended travel. Applications are made to the Department of Home Affairs in person and at the time of writing, the fee is $140.00.
Once the travel period ends and you have returned to Australia, the Bridging Visa B acts like the Bridging Visa A – it gives you permission to reside, work and study in Australia. Only those who hold a Bridging Visa A or a Bridging Visa B are eligible to apply for a Bridging Visa B.
Infographic showing the operation of Bridging Visas B
A Bridging Visa B is granted when an application is made while you are either on a Bridging Visa A or a Bridging Visa B. The Bridging Visa B has a travel facility which allows the holder to travel outside of and return to Australia within a specified period of time. The Bridging Visa B will continue to be in effect until a decision on the visa application is finalised (or a Bridging Visa A is reinstated).
Bridging Visa C subclass 030 (BVC)
A Bridging Visa C or BVC is available to you when you voluntarily lodge an application for a substantive visa while you are unlawfully in Australia. This type of bridging visa is granted if you do not hold a substantive visa and have subsequently become unlawful before applying for a new visa.
Bridging Visa C
Bridging Visas C are granted upon the Department of Home Affairs receiving a valid application for a visa while you are unlawfully in Australia. The Bridging Visa C is granted as there was a period of time between your visa expiring and applying for a new visa. You cannot travel outside of Australia and return if you are the holder of a Bridging Visa C.
Under the Migration Act 1958 and Migration Regulations 1994, the Bridging Visa C does not permit you to return to Australia if you decide to depart the country before the decision of your substantive visa application is made. You cannot apply for a Bridging Visa B for permission to travel if you hold a Bridging Visa C.
If you are a holder of Bridging Visa C and it has been granted with a condition that prohibits you from working, you can apply to have this condition removed. As there are no avenues to appeal a decision granting a bridging visa with unfavourable conditions, the process requires applying for a new Bridging Visa C without the work prohibition attached to it.
Applying for a Bridging Visa C which does not have the work condition requires demonstrating that you have a compelling need to work. This often requires demonstrating that you are or would be in financial hardship if you were not allowed to legally work.
Bridging (Prospective Applicant) Visas subclasses 040 and 041 (BVD)
Bridging (Prospective Applicant) Visas can be granted to you when you are about to become unlawful and you have attempted to lodge a substantive visa application but the application was invalid. You can apply for the bridging visa to allow you up to five days to lodge a valid application.
Bridging (Prospective Applicant) Visas do not come with work entitlements. You also cannot apply for permission to travel or a Bridging Visa B to travel outside of Australia and return.
To be eligible for a Bridging (Prospective Applicant) Visa you must be an unlawful non-citizen or you will become unlawful within three business days of your application for the bridging visa. You have made a genuine attempt to make a valid application for a substantive visa and you will be able to lodge a valid application for a substantive visa within five working days.
Bridging Visa E subclass 050 and 051 (BVE)
Bridging Visas E or BVE are generally granted to non-citizens to allow them to remain in Australia lawfully. They are usually granted to non-citizens when they have been detected as unlawful and to provide them with time to depart Australia voluntarily. This usually occurs when a decision has been made to cancel a visa under section 116 of the Migration Act 1958.
Bridging Visas E are also granted as a way to remain in Australia while you make an application for a substantive visa, wait for a decision by a court on an appeal, or wait for Ministerial Intervention to grant you a visa. Bridging Visas E are also granted if you have applied for a protection visa.
Bridging Visa E
Bridging Visas E are granted by the Department of Home Affairs upon direct application. They are granted in circumstances where you are unlawful either through your visa expiring or it being cancelled and allow you to remain in Australia to make arrangements to return to your country of origin or to finalise any outstanding migration matters.
A Bridging Visa E comes with very specific conditions. They are usually granted with reporting conditions, requiring the visa holder to report to a Department of Home Affairs’ office periodically. The visa also comes with ‘no work’ and ‘no study’ conditions. These conditions can be removed with an application for a new Bridging Visa E accompanied with submissions explaining why work or study rights should be granted.
Bridging Visa F subclass 060 (BVF)
A Bridging Visa F can be granted to you if you are a person of interest to police in Australia concerning serious commonwealth offences involving trafficking, sexual servitude, or deceptive recruiting. This visa will allow the holder to remain in Australia until the earliest date specified by the Minister. Usually this is 30 days from the grant or until the Minister advises that you are no longer a person of interest to the police.
A ‘no work’ condition is imposed on Bridging Visas F.
Not meeting the criteria for a Bridging Visa
If you do not meet the requirements of a bridging visa you will not be granted one. A person who is in immigration detention as a result of being refused a Bridging Visa E can apply to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a review of the decision, the court for judicial review, or request for Ministerial Intervention.
Otherwise, if a bridging visa is granted but it has unfavourable conditions, no avenue for appeal exists. The only option would be to apply for a subsequent bridging visa with that unfavourable condition removed.
How to apply?
How to apply for a bridging visa?
Most of the time you don’t need to make the formal application for a bridging visa. This is because it is granted to you by operation of law.
Is the application necessary?
A formal bridging visa application is usually not needed if you apply for a further visa while you are in Australia and you already hold a substantive visa at the time of making your further visa application.
The reason why a formal visa application for a bridging visa might not be required is that by operation of law, the valid application for a further visa in Australia is typically (but not always) deemed to be an application for a bridging visa as well. That application is usually always granted, either manually or automatically.
The purpose of a bridging visa is to bridge the gap, if any, between the time at which your current substantive visa expires and the point in time when your new substantive visa is granted.
The bridging visa is a mechanism for keeping you lawfully present in Australia.
If a bridging visa was not to be granted, then it would mean that you would be an unlawful non-citizen, present in Australia for that period between when your substantive visa expires and your further visa is decided.
Generally, asylum seekers who arrive by plane or boat without a valid visa or have previously been in immigration detention in Australia will be granted a BVE, if they are deemed eligible by the Department of Home Affairs to reside in the community. This includes asylum seekers in the Legacy Caseload (see the Legacy Caseload factsheet for more information).
Between November 2011 and 30 June 2020, a total of 37,026 bridging visas were granted to asylum seekers who arrived by boat. As at 30 June 2020, 12,450 asylum seekers who arrived by boat remained in the community (10,245 with a current BVE and 2,205 awaiting grant of a further BVE). The remaining 24,576 asylum seekers who were granted BVEs were granted a substantive visa, departed Australia, returned to immigration detention or passed away.
All BVE holders (including asylum seekers) are required to sign and comply with the Department of Home Affairs ‘Code of Behaviour’. Compliance with the Code of Behaviour is also a condition of the bridging visa.
The following groups of people are eligible for a bridging visa:
Those who have applied for a substantive visa(the visa) and are waiting on the visa application to be finalised
Those who have applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for a merits review of a visa refusal or cancellation
Those seeking a judicial review of a visa refusal or cancellation
Those who have made an initial Ministerial Intervention request
Unlawful non-citizens who are planning to depart Australia voluntarily
How long is a bridging visa valid?
A bridging visa will be valid for different time periods and expire under different circumstances depending on the type of bridging visa. Most bridging visas are no longer valid if the visa holder leaves Australia.
Source 2: https://myvisa.com.au/bridging-visas-a-guide-to-staying-lawfully-in-australia/
Source 3: https://www.kaldorcentre.unsw.edu.au/publication/bridging-visas
Source 4: https://www.taylorandscott.com.au/migration-law/need-know-bridging-visas-australia/