A Bridging visa is a non-substantive visa, which is designed to fill in time gaps and ensure the holder remains in Australia legally.
An example is the situation where a visa holder applies for another substantive visa, which is not granted until after the initial visa expired. If this person was not granted a bridging visa, they would become an unlawful non-citizen and be required to depart Australia.
There are seven classes of Bridging Visa:
Bridging A (Class WA)
Who can qualify for this visa?
In general, the circumstances in which a person is eligible to apply are:
- The applicant has made an application for a substantive visa, and that application has not been determined; or
- The application has applied for Judicial review of a decision not to grant an application for a substantive visa (or the Minister has applied for Judicial review); or
- The applicant holds a Bridging Visa A (and needs a new one as it is expiring); or
- The applicant holds a Bridging Visa B and held a substantive visa at the time they applied for a further substantive visa.
Some exceptions apply, subject to the Minister exercising their discretion to grant a Bridging Visa A in certain specific circumstances. There are also a range of circumstances in which a Bridging Visa A must be granted to persons within Australia without application.
Who can qualify for this visa?
In general, the Bridging Visa B is granted to applicants who already hold a Bridging Visa A or B and want to leave and return to Australia while their substantive visa application (or application for Judicial review) is being processed.
In order to be eligible, an application must establish a genuine need to travel and ‘substantial reasons’ that their desire to depart Australia – as well as to re-enter Australia – is not contrary to the public interest.
Bridging C (Class WC)
The BVC is granted to an applicant for a substantive visa who:
- Did not hold a valid substantive visa at the time of application, and
- Is not in immigration detention or jail (and has not escaped from either), and
- Does not hold a Bridging Visa E and has not held a Bridging Visa E since last holding a substantive visa
In addition, applicants who bypassed immigration detention more than 45 days ago and have not come to the notice of the Department.
A BVC holder is not allowed to travel – if they leave Australia, they will not be permitted to re-enter.
Bridging D (Class WD)
Subclass 040 / 041
The Bridging Visa D is essentially a short-term visa solution for certain unlawful non-citizens and it lasts only 5 days.
Its purpose is to make the applicant lawful (and therefore allow them to remain outside of detention) while they either:
- Make a substantive visa application (and receive another Bridging Visa),
- Apply for and are granted a Bridging Visa E, or
- Depart Australia.
There are two subclasses: 040 (Prospective applicant) and 041 (Non-applicant).
For an application for the Subclass 040 to be valid, the applicant must attend the Department of Immigration in person.
Bridging E (Class WE)
Subclass 050 / 051
The Bridging Visa E is divided into two subclasses:
- Subclass 050 (General), and
- Subclass 051 (Protection Visa Applicant).
To be eligible for the Subclass 051 visa, applicants must have been refused immigration clearance and must have applied for a protection visa, as well as satisfying a number of other relevant criteria.
To be eligible for the Subclass 050 visa, applicants must not be eligible for the Subclass 051. In addition, they must satisfy a range of relevant criteria set out in Schedules 1 and 2 of the Migration Regulations 1994.
Eligibility criteria for the BVE are complex and whether you are eligible will depend on a range of factors, including your most recent visa type.
Factors that will definitely exclude an applicant include if an applicant has previously held a Bridging Visa E, which was cancelled on the grounds of a breach of condition 8564 or 8566 (criminal conduct or code of behaviour), or they are subject to a negative security or police assessment.
In some circumstances, a BVE will only be granted to an applicant on the understanding that they are making arrangements to depart Australia. Bear in mind that whatever situation you are in, it is never too late to get a second opinion on your options.
Bridging F (Class WF)
The BVF applies to a very narrow class of potential applicants; namely, individuals (and their family members) who are suspected to be victims of people trafficking.
A person may be granted up to two BVFs, each lasting for 45 days – or until the person is no longer suspected of being a victim of trafficking (whichever comes first).
In certain circumstances, a person may be able to travel as a holder of a BVF.
Bridging R (Class WR)
The BVR is a rare kind of visa, which allows its holder be released from immigration detention into the community in order to make specific arrangements to depart Australia. In order to be eligible, an applicant must have been invited to apply by the Minister. To accept the invitation, a reply must be given within 7 days.
An eligible person must meet the requirements of Regulation 2.20(12); relevantly, that they do “everything possible” to ensure their quick departure from Australia.
Each of these visas is designed to deal with a specific set of circumstances, and you can read more about each by clicking the links above.
Whether you can work, travel or access Government benefits (such as Medicare) will depend on the class of Bridging Visa you hold and the conditions placed upon that visa.
Which Bridging Visa is Best?
The most beneficial Bridging Visa to hold, in terms of the flexibility and options it affords the holder, is the Bridging Visa B (Class WB).
You may be eligible for more than one class of Bridging visa in your circumstances. In such a scenario, fear not; the Department is required to grant you the Bridging Visa that is most beneficial to your circumstances.
The available Bridging Visa types and listed from most beneficial to least in Regulation 2.21 of the Migration Regulations 1994, as:
How do I Apply for a Bridging Visa?
In most cases, you do not need to apply specifically for a bridging visa – the application for a substantive visa, made in Australia, is also taken to be an application for the associated Bridging Visa.
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