“I was going to apply for a Bridging Visa!” A common statement we hear. Or clients will ask if they can just apply for a bridging visa instead of a partner visa, because it appears simpler and cheaper. Or the indecisive who are not ready to marry will also think they can get themselves a bridging visa for a while, until they’re ready to take the plunge with a Partner Visa.
I think I could say categorically that the Bridging Visa is the most misunderstood of all Australian visas!
How to apply for a Bridging Visa?
Guess what? You can’t!
You don’t have the money to apply for a partner visa, or you’re not ready to apply, or not ready to marry yet, or you simply can’t decide what you want to do? Is a bridging visa an option for you?
No! No, it is not!
There is no such thing as a stand-alone bridging visa that you can apply for. That’s not what bridging visas are for, and if you want to remain in Australia you need to get back on-track quickly. And this is precisely the reason why migration professionals, ie Registered Migration Agents, exist. It can be VERY confusing, and otherwise perfectly intelligent people can get on the wrong track and that can cause major disruption in their lives. This is especially so when you have an Australian Filipina couple who just want to be together and to get on with their lives.
So what is a Bridging Visa?
We’ve already (hopefully) established that it is not a great option to applying for the visa you’ve been putting off, and that you don’t go off and apply for one. Right?
A bridging visa is in fact a bridge between two visas. You come up to the cliff of your current visa coming to an end, and you don’t want to beat a hasty retreat to the airport to leave the country in a hurry. But right now you don’t have another visa, because that new visa you applied for hasn’t been granted yet. It’s off in the distance somewhere.
Look at the picture above, and you should get the idea.
You want to remain in Australia, but no one with any intelligence wants to be unlawfully in Australia. “Unlawful” is visa-speak for being “illegal” as the Americans call it. Being in Australia without a visa is bad news. You could get the thump at the door in the middle of the night, handcuffs, carted off to the detention centre, then on the plane back to the Philippines.
A bridging visa is a way of keeping you lawfully in Australia. You get to remain while the other visa is being processed, and are in no danger of being deported. If there were issues with the visa processing and it took two years for the new visa application to be processed, the visa applicant can remain on that bridging visa during those two years.
How to get a Bridging Visa – What are my requirements?
There are a few essential factors in getting a bridging visa. Take these away, and you won’t get one.
- You are inside Australia – Yes, must be inside Australia. If you’re in Philippines at this point, you won’t get one.
- You are applying for an onshore Australian visa (ie lodged inside Australia) – There are no bridging visas associated with offshore visas. If you apply for an offshore partner visa or a prospective marriage visa through the Australian Embassy in Manila, forget about bridging visas.
- You have already lodged a VALID new visa application – “Valid” means lodged correctly, basically. You used the correct form. You paid the visa application charge (ie the fee). You lodged it the right way and in the right place. And you were in the right place, ie not back in Manila!
- And sensibly, you would want to have done the things that you needed to do, or this will be a pointless exercise. If it’s an onshore partner visa and you’re not married yet or already in a de facto relationship for the right length of time, then they will refuse the application as soon as they realise this. So apply some commonsense.
- And whilst there are a few complicated exceptions to this rule, you should absolutely ensure that you are lawfully in Australia when you apply for the next visa. Do not wait until the current visa runs out.
In summary? A bridging visa is a bridge between two visas, and nothing more. You’re still a bit in limbo, but it stops you falling off the immigration cliff and needing to leave the country …….. either under your own steam or in handcuffs. And when you apply for something like an onshore partner visa, you get to work and study and live a pretty good life with few limitations.
But no, it’s not something you apply for, and it’s not an easy option.
If you want to ensure you don’t get horribly confused and go down the wrong track, use a professional which means a Registered Migration Agent who deals exclusively with Australian Filipina couples like yourselves. Spend five minutes doing a free online visa assessment form.
NB. This is a re-write and re-posting of an article published here in 2018