Bridging Visas can be a confusing area of the immigration process. So, I have put together a straight-forward guide to getting a bridging visa for your girlfriend.
This article includes:
- what a Bridging Visa is;
- how to get one;
- the different types;
- how they can help your girlfriend move to Australia.
What is a Bridging Visa?
A Bridging Visa is given to people who make applications for Visas in Australia. It lets your girlfriend stay in Australia while she waits for another visa.
In some ways its not a real visa but it is enough to let her stay in Australia while she waits for her real visa to be approved.
For example, if you girlfriend in in Australia on a Visitor visa and you apply for a Partner visa. She will then be allowed to stay in Australia while she waits for her Partner visa.
In this way you can see that they ‘bridge the gap’ while you wait for a new visa to arrive. Many people prefer this pathway to applying for a Fiance visa – which must be done outside Australia – so there is no Bridging visa involved.
How to get a Bridging Visa
Most of the time, when you apply for a visa in Australia they are granted automatically. So, in our example above, simply lodging the Partner visa application entitles you to an automatically generated bridging visa – letting you remain in Australia for around 2 years while you Partner visa is processing.
You can also apply for a Bridging visa, but the key requirement is that you are in Australia still remains. You cannot get one while you are outside Australia.
Types of Bridging Visa
The different types of Bridging visas are labelled alphabetically.
Bridging Visa A (BVA) is given when you apply, in Australia, for a visa that can be granted in Australia and you already hold another visa. So most people who hold visitor visas and then decide to apply for a Partner visa will get a BVA.
BVA allows full work rights and access to Medicare – which can be great if your girlfriend is pregnant. It does not, however, allow for international travel. If you want to travel while you hold a Bridging Visa A then you need to apply for travel permission – known as Bridging Visa B.
Bridging Visa B (BVB) allows you to travel. You can only get a BVB is you hold a BVA. You must make an application to travel and the visa that you get is the BVB.
For those who lodge an application in Australia when they don’t hold a visa, a Bridging Visa C (BVC) is granted.
For example if you Visitor visa has expired and then you lodge a Partner visa application – you will get a BVC.
You might be in this situation because you have simply not renewed your visa or paid attention to your expiry date. Another reason this situation might occur is if you have had a refusal of a visa application. And now you are looking to lodge a new application to stay in Australia.
I have written a comprehensive guide on what to do if immigration refused your girlfriend’s visa but if you are still in Australia after a visa refusal you might be prevented from making a new application by s48 of the Migration Act or Schedule 3 of the Migration Regulations. This is a complex area and I recommend you contact an immigration lawyer to discuss your best move.
The BVC does not allow work. It also does not allow you to travel overseas. It is not possible to apply for a BVB holding a BVA.
The Bridging Visa E is the lowest of the Bridging visas. It is what you get when you have no visa and you are unable to apply again. It is like an emergency visa that allows you a short time in Australia – provided you prepare to leave.
By the way – before you comment that I have missed out BVD – there is such a thing, but it is pretty rare. It is also not relevant to someone looking to bring their girlfriend from overseas to live in Australia
Bringing your Girlfriend to Australia to live
When you meet your future wife in another country you will want to bring her to Australia to live with you.
First, you can look at bring her to Australia with a Visitor visa. To do this you will need to sponsor her.
Then once she is in Australia you will need to apply for a permanent visa. When you do that, she will get a Bridging visa A that allows her to remain in Australia with you.
While on this visa she will be allowed to work and have Medicare. So, the bridging visa is an important part of the process. The visa ends when her permanent visa is granted, refused or is withdrawn. Although normally you will have an extra 35 days to leave Australia.