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Bridging visas play a crucial role in Australia’s immigration system, providing temporary legal status to individuals transitioning between different visa types or facing exceptional circumstances. Bridging visas offer temporary relief and certain rights to individuals until their immigration status is determined. This article will explore the different types of bridging visas available in Australia, their work rights, and what each type of bridging visa generally entails.
Bridging A Visa (Subclass 010)
The Bridging A Visa (BVA) provides temporary legal status to individuals already in Australia who have applied for another substantive visa (which can be granted in Australia) while holding a valid substantive visa. A substantive visa is any visa that is not a bridging visa. The BVA bridges the gap between the expiration of the current substantive visa and the final decision on the new visa application.
It is important to note that the BVA is granted automatically to individuals who apply for a new substantive visa while holding a valid substantive visa in Australia. The BVA comes into effect once the current substantive visa expires, providing the visa holder with lawful status until the decision on their new visa application.
In most cases, if the substantive visa held by an individual at the time of application had work restrictions, the bridging visa they receive will also be subject to the same work limitations. There are certain exemptions for eligible applicants of employer-nominated and independent skilled visas. Therefore, they could enjoy unrestricted work rights on their BVA, even if their previous substantive visas had work restrictions attached to them.
For instance, suppose Harry holds a visitor visa valid for three months without Condition 8503 (no further stay). While in Australia, they received an offer of employment from a Restaurant for the nominated occupation of Chef. The restaurant and Harry subsequently applied for the Employer Nomination Scheme visa (subclass 186) (Direct Entry stream), and Harry automatically received a BVA. Harry can start working for the restaurant when his visitor visa expires.
Note that Harry has to wait until his current visitor visa expires before working for the restaurant. Harry’s BVA will only be active once his current visitor visa expires. Accordingly, if Harry works for the restaurant while on a visitor visa, he will breach his visa conditions.
The BVA remains valid throughout the processing period until a decision regarding the new substantive visa application is reached. Please note that the BVA does not include travel rights. Suppose you choose to depart Australia while holding a BVA. In that case, the BVA will cease to be in effect, and you will be required to await the outcome of your new substantive visa application before returning to Australia.
The BVA can also be granted based on awaiting an outcome for merits and judicial review proceedings. In such cases, it is advisable to seek guidance from an immigration lawyer who can provide specific advice based on your circumstances.
Bridging B Visa (Subclass 020)
The Bridging B Visa (BVB) serves the purpose of allowing individuals to temporarily depart and re-enter the country while their substantive visa application is processing. It is generally designed for individuals who hold a BVA or a BVB (where the travel facility has expired) and genuinely need to travel outside Australia for a specified period.
Applicants must apply for and be granted the BVB before departing Australia.
The BVB generally inherits the work rights of the underlying bridging visa held by the individual. This means that if the individual has work rights on their BVA or BVB, they will have the same work rights on the new BVB.
Please note that granting a BVB is discretionary. The Department of Home Affairs will assess your individual circumstances and substantial reasons to travel. The Migration Policy provides guidance around the meaning of “substantial reasons” – such as employment and family matters. Please also note that once an individual is outside Australia, they cannot extend BVB. To obtain an extended BVB, the individual must be physically present in Australia and submit a new application. It is advisable to seek guidance from an immigration lawyer before applying for a BVB.Continue reading this article below the form
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Bridging C Visa (subclass 030)
The Bridging C Visa (BVC) provides temporary lawful status to individuals already in the country who apply for a substantive visa while holding a non-substantive visa (such as a BVA, BVB or BVC) or who don’t hold a valid visa and have applied for a specific substantive visa onshore. The BVC does not permit you to travel and may (in some instances) come without work rights.
Typically, the initial grant of a BVC includes Condition 8101, which restricts work rights, commonly known as the ‘no work’ condition. To obtain work rights on a BVC, individuals generally need to make a new application, demonstrate that their substantive visa application is still pending a final decision, and provide evidence of a compelling need to work.
The Migration Policy offers guidance regarding interpreting a “compelling need to work,” typically fulfilled when the visa applicant provides evidence of experiencing financial hardship. The visa applicant can provide the following evidence:
- that their reasonable living expenses exceed their financial capacity to pay;
- receipts or records of living expenses (utilities, groceries, rent, etc.);
- that they have no alternative means of financial support; or
- that they are providing financial support to someone else.
For instance, suppose Harry is on a student visa. He has recently completed a 4-year Bachelor’s degree and satisfies the Australian study requirement. Their student visa expired, and they overlooked applying for a 485 graduate visa (Post Study Work stream). Harry could apply for a BVC to maintain their lawful status in Australia. However, Harry will not be able to apply subsequently for the 485 visa as he currently needs to hold a substantive visa.
To address this issue, Harry can explore an alternative option, such as the 408 (COVID-19) visa. This particular visa welcomes applications from individuals whose visas have expired within 28 days before submitting their visa application. By applying for the 408 visa, Harry will receive a BVC while awaiting the outcome of the 408 visa application. Nevertheless, once the 408 visa is granted and Harry holds a substantive visa, Harry can then proceed to apply for a graduate visa, subject to meeting other eligibility criteria.
However, it is essential to acknowledge that the future availability of the 408 (COVID-19) visa cannot be guaranteed. While it may be a viable option currently, it is subject to potential changes in visa policies and regulations. It is recommended to seek guidance from an immigration lawyer who can offer tailored advice based on your unique circumstances.
Bridging D Visa (subclass 040 and 041)
The Bridging D Visa (BVD) allows you to remain in Australia for a limited period when you cannot apply for a substantive visa or are awaiting an outcome for a Bridging Visa E (BVE) application. The BVD serves as a short-term solution, allowing individuals to maintain lawful status in Australia while they navigate their circumstances.
The BVD has two subclasses:
Subclass 040 is for individuals who are currently or will soon become unlawful (within three days from making the BVD application) in Australia and need additional time to prepare and submit a substantive visa application. It will only be granted for five working days.
This visa subclass is for individuals who are currently or will soon become unlawful and unable or unwilling to apply for a substantive visa, and a delegate of the Department of Home Affairs is not available to interview you. Subclass 041 will only be granted for five working days. If an applicant needs more time to make the necessary arrangements, the applicant can explore the Bridging E Visa (BVE).
BVD holders do not possess work rights while they hold the BVD. For individuals holding subclass 041, an additional condition requires them to report to the Department of Home Affairs at a specified time and location.
Bridging E Visa (subclass 050 and 051)
The Bridging E Visa (BVE) is for individuals who are in immigration detention, have overstayed their visa, are unlawful, and cannot apply for any other substantive visa. The BVE provides temporary lawful status to individuals while they make arrangements for their departure from Australia or resolve their immigration matters, such as having a pending merit or judicial review matter or Ministerial intervention request.
The BVE has two subclasses:
The subclass 050 is also known as the Bridging (General) visa and has the following relevant criteria:
- The individual making the application is an unlawful non-citizen (not a holder of a valid visa); or
- An individual that holds a BVD or BVE and belongs to any of the following categories:
- In the process of or has pending substantive visa application and merits review proceeding;
- In the process of or has pending merits review proceeding of a visa cancellation decision;
- Currently making arrangements to leave Australia;
- Has applied for judicial review concerning a substantive visa application decision;
- Is a subject of a ministerial intervention request;
- Is in criminal detention and is not a subject of a stay certificate or warrant.
The subclass 051 is also known as the Bridging (Protection Visa Applicant) visa and is only available for eligible individuals that have applied for a protection visa.
Imposing work conditions is at the discretion of the delegate of the Department of Home Affairs. Additionally, it will depend on the applicant’s specific circumstances. Nevertheless, BVE holders with a ‘no work’ condition on their visas could submit a new application for a BVE and show a “compelling need to work”, as explained above. There are additional criteria to subclass 051 holders, such as demonstrating and providing reasons for the delay in applying for a protection visa. It is advisable to seek guidance from a refugee lawyer about how to satisfy any additional criteria.
Bridging F Visa (subclass 060) and Bridging R Visa (subclass 070)
The Bridging F Visa (BVF) is explicitly for alleged victims of human trafficking and slavery. This visa aims to provide temporary protection and support to those who have experienced these heinous crimes. It allows them to remain lawfully in Australia and access necessary services while the Department assesses and investigates their situation. BVF does not provide work rights to its holders.
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Understanding the different types of bridging visas in Australia is essential for individuals navigating the immigration system. Bridging visas serve as a temporary solution during transitional periods. They provide individuals with legal status and certain rights while their visa applications are processing or the Department is addressing exceptional circumstances.
These visas, such as the Bridging A, B, C, D, and E visas, cater to specific situations. These include:
- awaiting a decision on a substantive visa application;
- temporary departure and re-entry;
- maintaining lawful status while preparing a substantive visa application; or
- resolving immigration proceedings.
Applicants must know each visa type’s criteria, work rights, and conditions. Additionally, specialised bridging visas, such as the Bridging F and R visas, provide temporary protection, support, and, in some instances, work rights to address the specific circumstances these individuals face.
Navigating the complexities of bridging visas can be challenging. Therefore, it is advisable to seek professional guidance from immigration lawyers or experts. They can provide tailored advice based on individual circumstances. If you need help with your bridging visa, our experienced immigration lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 1300 544 755 or visit our membership page.
Frequently Asked Questions
The work rights associated with bridging visas in Australia vary depending on the type of visa and the individual’s circumstances. In most cases, if the substantive visa held at the time of application had work restrictions, the bridging visa received will also be subject to the same limitations unless exempted. Some bridging visas, although they have work limitations, can be reapplied to have work entitlements when you show a “compelling need to work”.
Bridging Visas in Australia does not include travel rights. If individuals choose to depart Australia while holding a Bridging Visa, the visa will cease to be in effect, and they will be required to await the outcome of their new substantive visa application before returning to Australia. However, there is an exception for the Bridging B Visa (BVB), which allows individuals to temporarily depart and re-enter the country while their substantive visa application is being processed.
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