We at Down Under Visa get questions and requests for bridging visas all the time, and most of the time the questions show a high level of confusion. All understandable, as Australian Migration Law is complicated. The Migration Act and the Migration Regulations are each like A-K Sydney Phonebooks. I can still remember lugging printed copies back after my very first class. Australian visa applications are complicated. It’s as simple as that!
Bridging Visas – What are they, and can I get one?
First rule! Bridging visas are for ONSHORE visa applications only!
If your visa application was lodged in Manila, you are not eligible for a bridging visa. Don’t ask for one. Don’t assume you can get one. It’s not possible.
Now that we have that out of the way……
Bridging visas have one purpose and one purpose only. They are there to give the bridging-visa-holder a lawful immigration status in Australia. If you are not an Aussie Citizen and are in Australia without a visa, you are known as an UNLAWFUL NON-CITIZEN. This is the correct term these days. The old term was “illegal alien”, but the Government likes renaming things. And if you are in Australia unlawfully, you can be tossed into detention, and can be removed (ie. deported) from Australia. Not the way you want things to happen, nor is it the way the Department of Immigration wants things either. Therefore they have a number of Bridging Visas for this purpose.
We won’t go over all of them. We’ll just cover the four that you are most likely to come across.
Bridging Visa A (BVA)
A Bridging Visa A (or BVA) is the one that most of you will end up with if you are eligible.
If you are lawful in Australia, ie. you have a visa and it hasn’t been revoked and hasn’t expired, and you lodge a VALID application for another visa IN AUSTRALIA, you will automatically get one of these when:
- The first visa expires, and
- The second visa hasn’t been granted yet
Typical scenario? You are on a tourist visa (with NO RESTRICTIONS ON APPLYING FOR ANOTHER VISA) and you apply for another visa, eg another tourist visa or a partner visa. You don’t need to apply for a BVA. It will be granted automatically when the first visa runs out. But the second visa application must be VALID (which means certainly conditions have been met, which your trusty Registered Migration Agent can ensure happens).
It generally gives you the same rights that you had on the previous visa, ie. if it was a former working visa, you can still work. However if the previous visa was a tourist visa, then you generally can’t. There can be exceptions, ie. it is fairly standard that you will get work rights if you apply for a partner visa.
But, you can’t leave the country and expect to come back! We’ve seen clients get caught by this. Leave the country on a Bridging Visa A, and you’re in strife!
Bridging Visa B (BVB)
You apply for this one if you want to travel and you already have a Bridging Visa. Fairly straight forward, but remember to apply in plenty of time and have your travel itinerary and booking details with you. Note that we don’t apply for these, but can give you guidance. Easier to apply in Australia.
Bridging Visa C (BVC)
This is similar to the Bridging Visa A, except it means you had let your previous visa expire before you applied for the next visa. Work rights are not automatic. Less ideal, but at least you’re lawfully in the country.
Bridging Visa E (BVE)
This one is when you are unlawful and report to Immigration. It will keep you lawfully in the country generally while you sort out your flight out of the country. If you are in this situation, let us know and we’ll put you onto a specialist in Australia.
Misunderstandings about Bridging Visas
A bridging visa means a bridge to Australia. Definitely not! It’s for onshore applications, and it’s not a “bridge to Australia”. It’s a bridge between two visas, and nothing more than that.
You can apply for a bridging visa to keep your partner in Australia. Yes, but only if you lodge a valid application for a partner visa (where you will get it automatically)! Definitely not a stand-alone visa! And definitely not a substitute for a partner visa application!
You can apply for a bridging visa on a Prospective Marriage Visa so she can stay. Definitely not! A prospective marriage visa (aka fiancée visa) is an offshore visa, and therefore not eligible.
You can “bridge your visa” to turn it into another type of visa. No, doesn’t work like that. You need to apply for a new visa application if you are eligible.
So don’t give them too much thought, and definitely don’t think they are some great option that we didn’t mention to you. Lodge a valid visa in Australia, and in most cases you’ll get one. Applied offshore? Doesn’t apply to you.