If you are planning to apply for a partner visa in Australia, an important aspect you need to consider is what happens to your visa status once you have lodged the application, and the rights and obligations which you will be bound by whilst you await a decision.

In this article, we discuss some of the important elements to be aware of to help guide you in this situation. Note that the

What is a Bridging Visa?

When you lodge partner visa application onshore, you will automatically be granted a Bridging Visa (BV). This allows you to remain lawfully in Australia whilst you await a decision on your application. This visa is designed to bridge the gap between one visa to the next so that you remain a lawful non-citizen during the partner visa application processing time.

The type of bridging visa granted will depend on your visa status at the time that you lodge your application, as follows:

  • If you hold a ‘substantive’ visa (that is, any visa excluding a bridging visa, criminal justice visa or an enforcement visa), you will be granted a Bridging Visa A (BVA)
  • If you do not hold a substantive visa, you will be granted a Bridging Visa C (BVC)

The BVA will come into effect only when your current substantive visa expires. Therefore, you will continue to hold your current visa and be subject to all the rights and obligations which apply to it (the BVA will not replace it).

The BVC will come into effect immediately upon lodgement of the partner visa application.

What are your rights and obligations as a Bridging Visa holder?

The BV allows you to remain in Australia whilst you await a decision on your application. You are also permitted to study and to enrol in Medicare. Work rights are automatically granted for BVA holders. If you are granted a BVC, you will not be permitted to work and must apply separately for workers rights. You will need to demonstrate that you have a compelling need to work.

It is important to note that neither the BVA nor the BVC has travel rights, meaning you will be unable to re-enter Australia on that visa. If you are planning to travel, you need to ensure that you return to Australia either:

  • whilst your current substantive visa is still valid (i.e. it has not yet expired)
  • once you have been granted a partner visa (if your application is successful); or
  • as the holder of a Bridging Visa B (BVB). This visa is identical to the BVA and BVC, the only difference being that it also has travel rights. You should apply for the BVB at least 2 weeks before your intended travel date and you should not depart Australia until this is granted.

Addressing the above will ensure that you have the right to re-enter Australia at the conclusion of your travel offshore. If you fail to do so, you will need to apply for a new substantive visa (such as a visitor visa) to allow you to re-enter, adding complications to your situation.

When will the Bridging Visa end?

The Bridging Visa will cease in the following situations:

  • your partner visa is granted
  • you depart Australia once the BVA/BVC is in effect
  • you are granted a BVB (as this will replace the BVA/BVC)
  • Immigration cancels either the visa which you held when you were granted the BVA/BVC, or the BVA/BVC itself

If your partner visa application is refused, the BVA/BVC will allow you to remain in Australia for up to 35 days after the date of the refusal decision. This will allow you the time to consider your options and either prepare for your departure or appeal the decision.

In conclusion, given the highly complex nature of the migration laws, and the fact that every individual case is different, we strongly recommend that you make the proper further enquiries, so that you are fully informed about the process, your visa status, and the rights and obligations which will apply to you after you have lodged your partner visa application. Book a consultation with PAX Migration today and make your visa process stress free.