A bridging visa is not a ‘substantive visa’. This is legal jargon for meaning that a bridging visa is not considered a ‘real’ visa for the purposes of immigration law. It is simply a visa granted to a person to ‘bridge the gap’ between real visas
A bridging visa is required because processing times for visas can be very long (from weeks and months up to years). In the meantime, a person’s original visa may have expired while waiting for their visa application to be approved. Therefore, a bridging visa is required to make sure the person has a visa to be considered legally in Australia until the substantive visa application is decided.
Bridging visas are not granted to applicants who are offshore. They are only relevant for applicants who have applied for a visa whilst in Australia.
A bridging visa is granted in the following circumstances:
- A person has applied for a visa but no decision has been made yet
- A person has applied for a tribunal review of a refusal or cancellation of a visa
- A person has applied for judicial review (court appeal) of a refusal or cancellation of a visa
- A person has applied to the Minister for personal intervention in their case
- A person plans to depart Australia but the substantive visa has expired or been cancelled
There are 5 categories of bridging visa:
|Category||Who gets this visa:||Period granted:|
|Bridging Visa A (BVA)||Applied for a substantive visa whilst holding a valid substantive visa||Until the application is finally resolved (even if it goes all the way to Court)|
|Bridging Visa (B) (BVB)||Must already hold a BVAMust have sufficient reasons to justify needing to leave Australia and return||For the period you need to travel out of Australia and return|
|Bridging Visa C (BVC)||Must have applied for a substantive visa whilst not holding a substantive visa||Until the application is finally resolved (even it if goes all the way to Court)|
|Bridging Visa D (BVD)||Must be planning to leave Australia orMust be planning to make a substantive visa application within 5 working days||Valid for 5 working days only|
|Bridging Visa E (BVE)||Must be planning to leave Australia orMust be applying for a substantive visa but do not qualify for a BVC||Until you leave Australia, or until your visa application is finally resolved (even if it goes all the way to Ministerial Intervention)|
Whether or not you have work rights attached to your bridging visa depends on some key circumstances:
- The type of visa you held before you received the bridging visa
- They type of visa you have applied for
- Whether or not you have a ‘compelling need to work’
By default, you will receive the same conditions as were attached to the type of visa you held before you received the bridging visa
- If you held a student visa, and you have received a BVA you will have work rights because the student visa you held does not preclude you from working you’re your course is not in session
- If you held a visa that carried work rights (such as a 457 or 485 visa) then you will have the same rights as you had on that visa
However, if you apply for certain permanent visas, you will be granted work rights with your BVA or BVC.
For any BVA, you will receive work rights if you have applied for a permanent employer sponsored visa, permenent skilled independent visa, Business Skills visa or a Partner visa.
If you do not receive work rights on the basis of the above factors, you will need to apply separately for work rights.
A condition on a Bridging Visa restricting work can be removed provided you can show a ‘compelling need to work’. This is defined as ‘financial hardship’ and requires a complete evaluation of your financial circumstances to justify a need to work. Key factors such as your level of savings, income, and expenses will be taken into account. Also, whether or not financial support is available from other people will also be considered.
Note there are some specific circumstances when the ‘compelling need to work’ waiver is not available.
Travel while on bridging visa
It is important to remember that while you are on a bridging visa, you must request permission to leave Australia and return, and be granted a BVB accordingly. Note that only BVA holders can be granted a BVB. BVC and BVE holders cannot be granted a BVB to leave and return to Australia – therefore they must meet the criteria for another form of visa to return to Australia if they leave.