A bridging Visa (BV) is a temporary visa, which provides the holder with permission to remain in Australia for a:

  1. specified period or until
  2. a specified event occurs e.g. waiting for a visa application to be processed, or to make you
  3. ‘lawful’ while you make arrangements to depart from Australia.

A bridging visa is not a “substantive visa” – which is the collective name for any Australian visa which is not a (a) bridging visa or (b) criminal justice visa or (c) enforcement visa.

Why should I avoid becoming ‘unlawful’

If you are in Australia without a visa, you are an unlawful non-citizen.
This can cause very significant problems for you and your family, such as:

  •  you all risk being detained and removed from Australia
  • you might not be granted another visa for three years after you leave Australia
  • you might have a debt to the Australian Government for the cost of your enforced removal.

If you would like to know more about various bridging visas and what might be applicable to you, please contact one of our senior (registered) migration agents.

Bridging visa overview

Broadly speaking there are seven different classes of bridging visa – of which only 5 are of more general use (BV-A; BV-B through BV-E ), as the sixth (BV -F) – is for suspected victims of human trafficking and their families; and the seventh: BV-R – is specifically for people in immigration detention who will be cooperating with efforts to remove them from Australia, where that removal is not reasonably practicable at the present time.

The order of BV classes from ‘most beneficial’ to the holder to ‘least beneficial’ is:

  • BV-B; (2) BV-A; (3) BV-C; (4) BV-D; (5) BV-R; (6) BV-E and (7) BV-F.

1. Bridging Visa A (BV-A) – subclass 010

If you are on a substantive Australian visa and you lodge another substantive visa application or you are a party to a tribunal or court merit review, you will be granted a BV-A which will provide you with ‘lawful’ status while your application is being processed/or your matter decided upon.

Important things to note about a BVA:

• there is no Visa Application Charge (VAC)
• the BV-A only comes into effect when your existing substantive visa ceases, or
if you don’t have a substantive visa – when the BV-A is granted.

Work rights

• As a rough rule of thumb – if the substantive visa you held at the time of your application had work restrictions on it, then the BV-A will have those same restrictions
• You will not generally have work rights on a BVA unless you apply to the Department for another BV-A that has no work restrictions. Your related application to the Department will have to evidence you have a compelling need to work and/or are suffering financial hardship.
• If you have been nominated or sponsored by an employer, regional body or State/Territory for a substantive visa on skills grounds (e.g. Class EA, Class EC, Class EN, Class RN), and appear to meet the requirements for the visa, work rights will automatically be granted.
• Also, if you are applying for an onshore partner visa (SC 820), you will automatically be granted work rights while your visa is being processed.

Travel rights

• You do not have any travel rights on this visa.
• Despite that you are eligible to apply for a BV-B to gain travel rights (see BV-B below).
• If you travel on your current substantive visa after having lodged another substantive visa application – the BV-A will cease once you leave Australia. This means that you will need to apply to have your BV-A reinstated on your return to Australia. If you don’t get your BVA reinstated before your current visa runs out, if you were to leave Australia, you would not be able to get back in and would become unlawful.

4. Bridging Visa D (BV-D) (sub-classes 040 and 041)

Bridging Visa ‘D’ includes two sub-classes – namely those who are currently, and those are shortly to become, ‘unlawful’, AND have attempted to, but need more time (up to five working days) to make a substantive visa application.

Stated differently, if your substantive visa has expired, a BV-D will let you stay in Australia ‘lawfully’ for a short period (up to 5 working days) until you are able to make a substantive visa application, make arrangements to leave Australia, or are granted a BV- E (see below).

Important things to note about a BV-D:

Time limits

  • Your BV-D will end either five working days after it was granted orfive days after the date your substantive visa ended or if you are granted a BV-E – sometime within those 5 days.
  • You must use those five days to either lodge a valid application or make arrangements to leave Australia.

Travel rights

  • You cannot leave or re-enter Australia on this visa, as there are no travel rights.

Work rights

  • This visa does not offer work rights under any circumstances and if you do work, you will have breached a key condition and your BV-D may be cancelled, and you will become ‘unlawful’.

2. Bridging Visa B (BV-B) (subclass 020)

This temporary visa is for holders of a BV-A or BV-B who would like to travel overseas for a short period and avoid their BV-A being cancelled while waiting for their substantive visa application to be processed.

Important things to note about a BV-B:

  • Typically, the conditions that were applicable on your last BV-A or BV-B will again apply
  • You will need to apply for a BV-B to the Department using Forms 1005/6, and a visa Application Fee applies (currently $140).
  • The department typically responds in a few days, when you will be notified if the BV-B has been granted
  • Because of the strict time limits you should only apply for the BV-B 2-3 weeks before you intend to travel
  • Generally, this visa is only valid for up to three months, you will thus need to return to Australia before the three-month period expires.
  • You can hold a BV-A and a BV-B simultaneously.

3. Bridging Visa C (BV-C) (subclass 030)

BV-C is for persons who have lodged an application for a substantive visa or are party to a related tribunal or Court merits review and do not hold an existing substantive visa or BV-E, and are not in or have escaped from, detention. This applies if you have overstayed your previous visa, or breached various conditions of your visa, and thus become unlawful, but have then lodged a valid application for a new substantive visa.

Important things to note about a BV-C:

When you have applied for a substantive visa in Australia, you may automatically have been granted a BV-C, the Department will let you know if that is the case.

If so then you will not need to fill out a separate form, otherwise a separate form (1005) should be completed.

Travel rights

  • You do not have any travel rights on a BV-C.
  • You cannot apply for travel rights by applying for a BV-B (see above) while holding this visa – hence you will not lawfully be able to leave Australia
  • If you have an urgent need to travel overseas, you will need to contact the Department or your case officer.

Work rights

  • The initial BV-C that is granted to you when you apply for your substantive visa will have a mandatory condition that you cannot work, unless the substantive visa you have applied for is one of the following SkillSelect visas :

If your initial BV-C does not let you work in Australia, you can apply for another BV-C that will provide you with work rights.

To be considered for a BV-C with work rights that lets you work, you will usually have to demonstrate a “compelling need to work’ or that you are suffering financial hardship.

5. Bridging Visa E (BV-E) (sub-class 050 and 051)

The BV-E visa is for certain ‘unlawful’, non-citizens whose substantive visa has ended, and also BV-D and BV-E visa holders, including those who are making arrangements to depart from Australia, to lawfully stay in Australia while those arrangements are finalised or where they are a party to a Tribunal/Court review or a Ministerial Intervention request – to finalise those immigration matter/s or to await the outcome of the decision on their matter.

Important things to note about a BVE:

There is no Visa Application Charge payable to the Department, nor form to be completed – other than 1005/1008 in special circumstances.

Travel rights

  • BV-E ends once you leave Australia so you cannot return unless you are granted another substantive visa.

Work rights

  • Your grant letter from the Department will tell you if you are allowed to work.
  • If you work when you are not allowed to, the Department can cancel your BV-E and detain you and you could also be removed from Australia.