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Bridging Visas

Bridging visas are transitory visas which permit a person to remain in Australia for a certain period of time. A person is generally granted one of these visas after the expiration of their current substantive visa (eg, a Student Visa) while waiting for their application for another visa to be processed.

When are they granted?

Bridging visas can be granted:

  • Where a person’s original visa has expired and they are waiting for the application for another substantive visa to be finalised;
  • Where a person has applied to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal for review of a visa refusal or cancellation;
  • Where a person is waiting on a court appeal on a decision about their visa;
  • Where a person has requested ministerial intervention; and
  • Where a person has been an unlawful non-citizen and is making arrangements to depart Australia voluntarily.

There are six bridging visa types, each of which has different conditions and entitlements. Generally, a person’s migration status prior to being granted a bridging visa will determine the visa type they are granted and the rights which are attached to it.

Bridging Visa A subclass 010 (BVA)

The Bridging Visa A or BVA is granted when a person makes an application for a visa while they are in Australia and hold a valid visa. This visa allows a person to remain in Australia after the expiry of their substantive visa while they wait for a decision.

When a person is in Australia as the holder of a Bridging Visa A and their visa application is refused, they have 28 days to leave Australia. If they appeal the decision to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the visa will be automatically extended to allow the Tribunal to make a decision.

Under the Migration Act 1958 and the Migration Regulations 1994, this visa entitles a person to travel anywhere within Australia but the holder is not entitled to depart Australia and then return. If a person wishes to travel overseas and return to Australia while waiting for a decision on their visa application, they should apply for a Bridging Visa B.

This allows the holder to live in Australia and the same rights to work and study that they had under the substantive visa they previously held. For example, if a person held a Student Visa at the time they applied for a different substantive visa while in Australia, they will be granted a Bridging Visa A with the same work and study conditions as their Student Visa.

This visa is granted where the Department of Home Affairs receives a valid application for a new visa while the applicant holds a substantive visa. The Bridging Visa A will not come into effect until the substantive visa expires. Once the application for the new visa is finalised, the Bridging Visa A expires.

Bridging Visa B subclass 020 (BVB)

A Bridging Visa B or BVB grants the holder a right to travel. It comes with a ‘travel authority’ and ‘travel period’ meaning the holder is allowed to travel outside Australia and return, within the period of time stated on the grant notice.

This visa can be granted where a person currently holds a BVA or BVB and it is in effect or will be in effect at the time of their intended travel. Once the travel period ends and the visa holder has returned to Australia, it acts like the BVA – it gives them permission to live, work and undertake study in Australia. Only those who hold a BVA or BVB may apply for a Bridging Visa B.

Bridging Visa C subclass 030 (BVC)

A Bridging Visa C or BVC is available to a person who voluntarily lodges an application for a substantive visa while they are unlawfully in Australia. It is granted if a person does not hold a substantive visa and has become unlawful before applying for a new visa. A person on this visa cannot travel outside of Australia and return. They also cannot apply for a BVB for permission to travel.

A person on this visa may be granted the right to work if they meet the conditions for this. This requires the person to demonstrate that they have a compelling need to work. This often requires them to show that they are or would be in financial hardship if they were not allowed to legally work.

If a person is the holder of a Bridging Visa C with a condition that prohibits them from working, they can apply to have this condition removed. As there are no avenues to appeal against a decision granting a bridging visa with unfavourable conditions, the applicant must apply for a new BVC without those conditions attached to it.

Bridging (Prospective Applicant) Visas subclasses 040 and 041 (BVD)

The Bridging (Prospective Applicant) Visa, or Bridging Visa D, can be granted to a person when they are about to become unlawful and have attempted to lodge a substantive visa application but the application was invalid. They can apply for the bridging visa to allow them up to five days to lodge a valid application.

This visa does not come with work entitlements. The holder cannot apply for conditions allowing travel or a BVB to travel outside of Australia and return.

To be eligible for this visa, a person must be an unlawful non-citizen or be about to become unlawful within three business days of their application for the bridging visa. If they have made a genuine attempt to make a valid application for a substantive visa, they may lodge a valid application for a substantive visa within five working days.

Bridging Visa E subclass 050 and 051 (BVE)

Bridging Visa E or BVE is generally granted to a non-citizen to allow them to remain in Australia lawfully. It is usually granted to a non-citizen when they have been detected as unlawful to give them time to leave Australia voluntarily. This usually occurs after a decision to cancel a visa under section 116 of the Migration Act 1958.

It is also granted as a way for a person to remain in Australia while making an application for a substantive visa while waiting for a decision by a court on an appeal, or while waiting for Ministerial Intervention to grant them a visa. Bridging Visas E is also granted if a person has applied for a protection visa.

It is granted by the Department of Home Affairs upon direct application. They are granted where a person is unlawful because their visa has expired or been cancelled and allow the person to remain in Australia to make arrangements to return to their country of origin or to finalise any outstanding migration matters.

This visa comes with very specific conditions. The holder must generally report to a Department of Home Affairs’ office periodically. The visa 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 on why the applicant should be granted work or study rights.

Bridging Visa F subclass 060 (BVF)

A Bridging Visa F can be granted to a person who is of interest to police in Australia in relation to serious commonwealth offences involving trafficking, sexual servitude, or deceptive recruiting. This visa allows 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 the person is no longer a person of interest to the police.

It comes with a  ‘no work’ condition.

Bridging Visa R subclass 070 (BVR)

A Bridging Visa R can be granted to a person who is facing removal from Australia but where their removal is not currently practicable. The visa allows the person to live in the community until their removal from Australia can be facilitated. This bridging visa was created to avoid keeping non-citizens who have exhausted their visa options but cannot presently be removed to any other country, in detention indefinitely.

The Bridging Visa R has strict conditions attached, including that the holder must keep the department  informed of the details of every person they are living with and notify the department if they receive or transfer more than $10,000. Additional conditions, including that the holder must abide by a curfew or wear a monitoring device, are also imposed unless the Minister is satisfied that the person is not a risk to the community.

A person must receive an invitation to apply for a Bridging Visa R, which usually comes from the Minister. This invitation must be taken up within seven days.

What if I don’t meet the criteria?

A person who does not meet the requirements for a bridging visa will not be granted a bridging visa. 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 that decision, or to the court for judicial review, or request ministerial intervention.

Otherwise, if a bridging visa is granted with unfavourable conditions, there is no avenue for appeal. The only option would be to apply for a subsequent bridging visa without the unfavourable condition.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter please contact Armstrong Legal. 

Tanguy Mwilambwe - National Practice Director - Brisbane

This article was written by Tanguy Mwilambwe - National Practice Director - Brisbane

Tanguy is the National Practice Director in the areas of Administrative Law and Immigration Law. He is able to assist clients in court matters throughout most Australian jurisdictions, in relation to Administrative and Immigration decisions. Tanguy has appeared in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Federal Circuit Court of Australia, Federal Court of Australia, state courts (including Supreme, District and Magistrates Courts)...

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