If you are planning to apply for a partner visa onshore 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. We explain what a partner bridging visa is and how it operates, what your rights and obligations are as a bridging visa for partner visa holder, when the bridging visa for partner visa Australia ceases, and provide links to further information about bridging visas, as well as the partner visa program.
But before we venture into the bridging partner visa, let us first explain what a partner visa is.
What Is A Partner Visa?
If you are married to, or are in a de facto relationship with, an Australian partner, and you are located onshore, you may be eligible to apply for a Subclass 820/801 Partner visa. This is a combined application for a temporary and permanent residence visa.
An important aspect of qualifying for a partner visa is to meet the ‘relationship’ requirement. This means that your relationship must satisfy the relevant definition of either a ‘spouse’ or ‘de facto’ relationship as prescribed in the migration provisions.
Note that there a strictly defined requirements that apply in this regard, and so things may not be as clear-cut as you may expect. As a result, what you percieve as a relationship for this purpose may not match what is accepted for visa application purposes.
For example, if you are applying on the basis of a ‘spouse’ relationship with your Australian partner, your marriage must be valid under Australian law. A marriage that took place outside Australia and which is recognised in an overseas jurisdiction will not necessarily be legally recognised in Australia.
Similarly, for a ‘de facto’ relationship, its ordinary common usage meaning, or how it is defined under other laws in Australia or overseas, may not necessarily equate with how it is defined under the Migration Act and Regulations. Assessing whether you satisfy either of these terms (depending on your personal situation) is one of the most important aspects of your partner visa application. The bulk of your application will consist of submitting evidence to support your claims that your relationship is genuine and that it satisfies the relevant meaning of either a spouse or de facto relationship under the migration provisions.
De facto relationships are also subject to additional eligibility requirements to qualify for a partner visa.
What Happens After You Apply For An Onshore Partner Visa?
At the first processing stage, you will be assessed for the temporary partner visa only. If your application is successful and the visa is granted, you will be permitted to reside in Australia with your partner whilst you await a decision on the permanent partner visa, which the Department will commence processing once 2 years have passed since lodgement of your application.
When you apply for the onshore partner visa, you will be granted a bridging visa, which will allow you to remain lawfully in Australia whilst you await processing of your subclass 820 temporary partner visa application.
Now lets take a closer look at the bridging visa for partner visa.
What Is A Bridging Visa For Partner Visa Applicants?
As mentioned above, when you lodge a partner visa application onshore (that is, a combined Subclass 820 Partner (Temporary) visa and Subclass 801 Partner (Residence) visa application), you will automatically be granted a bridging visa for partner visa. In this circumstance, the BVA that is granted is associated with both the temporary and the permanent visa applications (i.e. both the Subclass 820 and Subclass 801 application).
Why Is A Bridging Visa So Important?
The partner bridging visa allows you to remain lawfully in Australia whilst you await a decision on your partner visa application. The bridging visa to partner 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. So in effect, its like stepping ‘over a bridge,’ from a bridging visa to partner visa. Without this being available to onshore partner visa applicants, you could be left as an unlawful non-citizen in Australia, and the associated consequences that this would bring.
A central tenet of Australia’s migration laws is that individuals must arrive lawfully and abide by the conditions of their visa. Australian law requires foreign nationals coming to Australia to obtain a visa.
Under the Migration Act 1958, the Australian Border Force (ABF) must detain unlawful non-citizens. A person may be unlawful because:
- they arrived without a valid visa;
- their visa application has been refused;
- their visa was cancelled; or
- their visa has expired.
An unlawful non-citizen can be removed or deported from Australia. It is therefore vital that this situation be avoided for all non-citizens in Australia, not only partner visa applicants.
What Type Of Bridging Visa Can Be Granted?
The type of bridging partner 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 Subclass 010 Bridging Visa A (BVA);
- If you do not hold a substantive visa, you will be granted a Subclass 030 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 (i.e. the BVA will not replace it).
The BVC will come into effect immediately upon lodgement of your partner visa application.
What Are Your Rights And Obligations As A Partner Bridging Visa Holder?
The bridging visa for partner visa 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 as a partner bridging visa holder.
The BVA is subject to nil visa conditions for onshore partner visa applicants. Work rights are automatically granted to 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. Like the BVA, the BVB has nil visa conditions. 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 partner visa will cease in the following situations:
- your partner visa is granted;
- you depart Australia whilst the BVA/BVC is in effect;
- you are granted a BVB (as this will replace the BVA/BVC); or
- Immigration cancels either the visa which you held when you were granted the BVA/BVC, or it cancels 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 to appeal the decision.
Get More Information About The Bridging Visa
To learn more about bridging visas and how they operate more generally (which is also relevant to bridging visa for partner visa Australia holders), please refer to the following articles that we have prepared to assist you further:
Get More Information About The Partner And Prospective Marriage Visa
We have prepared a series of articles to provide further information about the partner visa program and how it operates, including the partner visa application process and eligibility requirements. Please see the links below for more information on the partner visa checklist:
Speak To A Migration Professional
Bridging visas, and partner visas more generally, are a complex area of the law. We therefore recommend that you seek further information and advice on your visa status and how the bridging visa will apply to you, based on your personal situation.
Why Choose PAX Migration Australia?
The team of professionals at PAX Migration Australia have the knowledge, skills and qualifications to advise you on your partner visa options, formulate a partner visa pathway to help you to achieve your migration goals in Australia, and will explain exactly how the partner bridging visa will apply in your circuumstances.
To learn more about why you should consider speaking with PAX Migration Australia, reviews and testimonials from our clients about what they think about us, and why obtaining professional assistance and advice from a migration agent can be beneficial in achieving a positive outcome on your migration matter, please refer to the following articles:
Bridging visas, and partner visas generally, are a complex area of the law. We therefore recommend that you seek further information and advice on your visa status and how the bridging visa will apply to you, based on your personal situation.
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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.
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