The basic story of the WA 010 Bridging Visa A (BVA) & the WB 020 Bridging Visa B (BVB) is very simple –
The BVA is for people who make an onshore (in Australia) application while they hold a substantive visa. (A substantive visa is any visa except a Bridging visa, a Criminal Justice Visa or an Enforcement Visa) – So basically almost every known visa.
The BVB is only for holders of a BVA who wish to travel overseas for a specified limited period. So while a BVA holder can depart Australia they cannot return on their BVA and hence they should apply for a BVB which will allow them to return. The current DIAC charge for this application is $105 (as at 1 July 2011).
When a BVB is granted it replaces the holders BVA. It is important for those who travel on a BVB to reapply for their BVA when they return. Use Form 1005 and tick the box that says
“You are seeking to replace a bridging visa attached to an outstanding application for a substantive visa because the bridging visa ceased when you left Australia…”
There is no DIAC charge to make this application!
This is important as a BVB has an expiry date and when it ceases the visa applicant’s status in Australia less certain (on an expired BVB). DIAC will often tell applicants that they don’t need to do this – put simply you do!
To be granted a BVB you must ‘convince’ DIAC that you have a ’substantial reason for travel’. This sounds ominous and I have seen quite a few applicants turned away at the DIAC counter by an officer telling them that he or she does not consider that they have a substantial reason to travel. They wander off looking confused. The reason for this provision is that DIAC want you here just in case they a) need you in relation to your application or b) what to make a decision on your application which will not be possible if you are overseas. Processing officers usually check with for example the MRT / RRT to determine if your application is likely to be heard in the time you propose to be overseas. If it is you’re not going to get the BVB.
Don’t be put off by the ‘substantial reason for travel’ criterion by a counter officer. Generally almost anything is substantial reason and it is a subjective judgement – however going somewhere for a couple of weeks in the sun probably will not fly! Insist on being given a ticket if you’re there to let a processing officer see your application.
So the BVA keeps an applicant for a substantive visa lawful while their application is being assessed / processed by DIAC and it will remain in place while any application for Merits Review (MRT / RRT / AAT) is decided. The BVA is normally granted at the time a substantive visa application is made however the BVA only comes into effect when the holder’s existing substantive visa expires. The BVA steps forward to keep the visa applicant lawful.
I get many questions on this last point. Typically…“I’ve got a Student visa which expires in 18 months and I’ve lodged an onshore GSM or Partner application and now I’ve been granted a BVA. Can I stop studying?”
No. Your Student visa is still your current / existing visa and you are bound by the conditions of that visa. In a later post I’ll discuss voluntary visa cancellation but that will be in the post on the WE 050 BVE as a possible ‘solution’ to this situation.
Another common query is about the Visa Conditions that apply to a BVA. It is a common misunderstanding that a bridging visa will always have the same conditions as the holder’s last substantive visa. Now it’s easy to see how this misunderstanding has developed as this is generally the case however some conditions cannot flow from the substantive visa to the BVA and some visa applicants will have additional conditions applied to their BVA. When a BVA is granted the grant always specifies the conditions – so be smart and check don’t just assume.
Work permission is naturally an area of major interest for most visa applicants. Generally if a substantive visa had work permission that same condition will apply to the BVA.
If your BVA is granted without permission to work application can be made (Form 1005 again) to ‘Change to Bridging Visa Conditions’.
Basically there are two pathways to get permission to work granted on a BVA –
a) Are you seeking permission to work on the basis of an employer nomination associated with an outstanding application for a subclass 856 or 857 visa; or a Business (long stay) (class UC) (subclass 457) visa?
b) Are you seeking permission to work on the basis of financial hardship?
If you follow the second pathway (financial hardship) you will need to demonstrate to DIAC that your financial situation is such that you need to work to be able to support yourself. They are not too hard on this if you give them adequate supporting documentation outlining your savings, income and expenditure (worked out weekly).
A couple of other things to keep in mind
- If you are applying for Judicial Review (the Courts) you must make application for the BVA – the applicant’s BVA does not roll on as with Merits Review and it is not granted automatically upon making the application for Judicial Review.
- A BVA will expire 28 days after the holder is notified of the final decision – this could be DIAC refusal, a DIAC decision affirmed at Merits Review or an application for Ministerial Review.
- A BVA in relation to Judicial Review ends 28 days after the court proceedings have ended or 28 days after the applicant withdraws the application.
- A BVA ceases when the visa holder leaves Australia.
So perhaps more complex than it seemed at the start.