There are several visa pathways towards becoming a permanent resident in Australia, and all of them take time.
Well, have you ever wondered how people manage to remain Down Under legally while they’re processing their visa requirements or are transitioning from one visa to another? Apparently, they rely on something called a bridging visa.
So, today, we’ll be talking about this not-so-widely known yet rather useful type of visa.
What A Bridging Visa Is (And What It Isn’t)
As we’ve mentioned, bridging visas are temporary ones that allow their holders to legally remain in Australia. Generally, the authorities automatically issue these for migrants with ongoing immigration matters or pending visa applications.
While bridging visas aren’t substantive (i.e., not for the long-term), they are still lawful. Thus, holding onto one will still count towards the required four-year period for permanent citizenship.
However, this also means that you can only get a bridging visa if you already have a substantive visa pending onshore. It is not a stand-alone visa at all.
“I’ve had clients who just wanted to apply for a bridging visa. What they don’t seem to understand is that in order to be issued a bridging visa, you have to have an immigration matter or another visa that’s pending onshore,” Melbourne-based immigration agent Paul Dizon said. “A bridging visa is only a means to regulate immigration status in Australia.”
Different Types of Bridging Visas
There are five types of bridging visas, and the type you get will depend on your circumstances:
- Bridging Visa A (BVA)
- Bridging Visa B (BVB)
- Bridging Visa C (BVC)
- Bridging Visa D (BVD)
- Bridging Visa E (BVE)
If you apply for another visa before your current one expires, you automatically get one of these. Usually, your current visa’s conditions carry over onto your bridging visa until you get your next one.
Applicable only to BVA holders, a BVB allows you to temporarily leave the country. Unlike BVA’s, you actually have to apply for one, and these come with an AU$140 fee. BVB’s are also typically valid for three (3) months, with your BVA getting reinstated upon your return.
If you’ve lodged multiple visa applications onshore, you’ll probably get a BVC. Do note that BVC’s won’t allow you to work nor depart Australia in the meantime.
A BVC may also apply to those who have overstayed in the country.
Like BVC’s, BVD’s won’t enable you to work Down Under or return should you leave the country. However, it’s mainly for those whose substantial visas have expired. This is so you can submit a substantive visa application, prepare to leave Australia, or be granted a BVE.
This is the worst-case scenario among bridging visas. It’s issued only to overstayers and unlawful people (i.e., those in immigration detention or with cancelled visas). Thus, its holders cannot work and are banned from returning for a period once they leave Australian soil.
Which One Is Right For You?
Obviously, avoid BVE at all costs. This one can ban you from returning to Australia for 3-10 years. It may perhaps derail your path towards becoming a permanent citizen as well.
Furthermore, it’s important to note the travel and work restrictions for the four other types. If you’d like to stay on in Australia, BVA and BVC are ideal. In contrast, a BVA paired with a BVB works best if you need to leave the country for a bit while awaiting your next visa. Just be sure to come back within the three-month timeframe.
Should you want to continue working while waiting for your next visa, you can get a BVA, but bear in mind that not all holders are allowed to do so. In some cases, the authorities might require proof of financial hardship before they grant permission.
For more information on visa types and processes, you can visit the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs’ official website. Whichever visa you choose, be it a substantive or bridging sort, be sure to adhere to its conditions for best results and/or to stay out of trouble.