How Long Does It Take To Get A Bridging Visa For Australia?
If you are currently in Australia and are ‘between’ visas, you may need to apply for a temporary status to allow you to stay while your application is being processed; this is referred to as a ‘bridging visa’. There are a number of situations which may warrant the need for a bridging visa; for example, someone on a working holiday may wish to remain in Australia for longer and apply for a work visa. In this article, we will explain the different types of Australian bridging visa, and how long the application process can take.
What Are The Main Types Of Australian Bridging Visa?
There are four main temporary bridging visas in Australia, catering for different immigration scenarios:
Bridging visa A (BVA) – subclass 010
A BVA allows migrants to remain onshore in Australia after their current substantive visa ceases and while their new substantive visa application is being processed.
With a BVA, you will be allowed to “stay lawfully in Australia until your substantive visa application is finalised, or where granted in association with judicial review, until those proceedings are completed, and work, if you meet the requirements for work”,
Applications for a BVA must be made while onshore in Australia. The cost of the visa is free and there will be no time limit placed on its validity; rather an end date will come in to force if your new application is refused, a merits review or judicial review is completed, or you withdraw your application.
Bridging visa B (BVB) – subclass 020
A BVB is granted to BVA holders who need to travel, allowing them to leave and return to Australia during a specified travel period while their application for a substantive visa is being processed.
Applications for a BVB also must be made in Australia, and only by a person with a BVA who has made a substantive visa application. BVB holders can stay lawfully in Australia until their substantive visa application is finalised and leave and return to Australia within the defined travel period. The guidance for the BVB states, “The BVB travel facility may be granted with single or multiple travels and will be valid for use until a specified date. If the travel facility has ended or does not have sufficient validity remaining to cover your proposed journey, then you will need to apply for and be granted a new BVB prior to leaving Australia”.
In some cases, BVB holders may also be given permission to work in Australia.
The cost of the BVB Is AUD$155, and like the BVA, no set time limit will be attached to your visa, but it will cease once your current matter is concluded (i.e. your substantive visa application, merits review, or judicial review).
Bridging visa C (BVC) – subclass 030
The BVC is used by migrants who have applied for a new substantive visa, but did not have a substantive visa at the time of the application (they must not be on a BVE in order to apply for a BVC).
Like the other bridging visa types, you will need to be in Australia when you apply for a BVC. If you are granted a BVC, you will be permitted to stay lawfully in Australia until your substantive visa application is finalised, and work if you are eligible.
According to the immigration rules, your BVC will cease if:
- you leave Australia while your BVC is in effect
- you are granted the substantive visa you applied for
- you are granted another bridging visa in relation to the same substantive visa application that this BVC is associated with, or
- we cancel either your BVC or the substantive visa that you held when you were granted the BVC
There is no cost to apply for a BVC.
Bridging visa E (BVE) – subclasses 050 and 051
A BVE is typically required by unlawful non-citizens who are waiting for a decision on a visa application or appeal or are due to leave Australia. Subclass 050 is designed to enable currently unlawful migrants to stay lawfully in Australia while they make arrangements to leave, finalise their immigration matter or wait for an immigration decision. Subclass 051 is for those who are waiting for their Protection visa application to be processed. A BVE enables holders to make arrangements to leave Australia, apply for a substantive visa,
seek a merits or judicial review of a visa decision or citizenship decision, or seek a ministerial intervention.
Some BVE holders will be permitted to work while they are in Australia – this will be explained in the approval letter from the Department of Home Affairs.
How Long Does It Take To Process An Australian Bridging Visa
Unfortunately, the Australian Department of Internal Affairs currently does not provide an estimated processing time for bridging visas. That said, one week is considered normal to process a bridging visa application. Applications are likely to be heavily delayed due to COVID-19, therefore it is important to submit your application as early as possible to ensure you always hold a legal status in Australia. A number of COVID-19 concessions are currently being offered by the Department of Internal Affairs for those who have been impacted by the pandemic. These are available for the following visa types:
- Skilled Regional (Subclass 887) visa
- Business Innovation and Investment (Permanent)(Subclass 888) visa
- Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional)(Subclass 188) visa
- Safe Haven Enterprise (Subclass 790) visa
- Temporary Graduate (Subclass 485) visa
If your visa has already expired, the Department of Home Affairs states, “you need to apply for a Bridging visa E (BVE) immediately in order to become lawful”.
Once you have made a valid application for a bridging visa for which you are eligible, as long as you have submitted an application for a bridging visa, you will be in the country on a legal basis.
If you are unsure which bridging visa to apply for, or even if a bridging visa is suitable for your needs, speak to an immigration lawyer who will be able to assist you in regularising your immigration status in Australia.