Sunday the 22nd of March 2015
Volume 365

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The Secret Life of Bridging Visas 
closeup of the australian visa in passport
Bridging Visas are often misunderstood

By Karl Konrad
Managing Director 
Australian Immigration Law Services


Bridging visas are a strange concept and often misunderstood. They offer a temporary gateway to the Australian terra firma whereby in the end you will either enjoy your stay here with a substantive visa tucked in your passport or you may spin for what seems an eternity in a void of legal indecision. The later is often referred to as hell or purgatory depending upon your religious values.  


Remember when you hold substantive visas, you are allowed to make multiple applications for as many different visas you may feel you are entitled to and willing to pay for. However while only holding a Bridging visa, this will not be the case.


 Not really a visa?


The first thing to remember is that Bridging visas are not really visas in the proper sense as they are classified as non-substantive visas. A substantive visa is like a tourist, student, TR or PR visa, something you can rely on with a degree of certainty that you will not be deported while they last.  


There are five main variants of Bridging visas, A, B,C,D and E. Commonly referred to as a BVA, BVB etc. Their sole purpose is to keep you legal in Australia for your transition from one visa to the next or in the worst-case scenario, give you enough time to arrange your departure from Australia.


Imagine they exist as if in another dimension and most will materialize automatically but some do not. However when their power takes over (usually when your last substantive visa expires) your options to apply for other visas in Australia becomes severely restricted. If you are unfortunate enough to be refused whilst residing here on a Bridging visa then your options are dwindled down from very little to almost none.


Best to be avoided


The best advice we can give people is to avoid depending upon Bridging visas.


However most of the time you can't actually avoid them but that doesn't mean you have to depend on them. When you make that substantive visa application they are created at the same moment. You can't actually say you don't want one like asking for no sugar in your coffee, they are just appear as if Harry Potter had waved his wand in your direction. They hover like a ghosts and remain usually undetected unless you have read the fine print on your visa application acknowledgment letter. Sitting patiently, they wait until your substantive expires and then they have you in their grasp, your trapped.


The best way to avoid their tentacles is to make your visa application well in advance so that when the new visa when granted it will just replace the old one. In these circumstances cases the Bridging visa remains just a frustrated poltergeist never having its chance to have any power over you.


 A, B, C, D or E


Bridging visas come with mainly five distinctly differently variations.


Types A and B are the Casper the Friendly Ghost variety, there to lend you a helping hand. They often have permission to work and even the BVB variety will allow you to leave Australia and re-enter. How nice. They exist because you've done the right thing and applied for your next substantive visa before the last one expired. Well done.


The C version is a little creepier having definitely spent a little time on the dark side. It enjoys punishing you for not doing what the DIBP expected of you. BVC is given to you as you failed to lodge your visa application before your last substantive visa expired. It can be found everywhere in Australia as quite often people don't apply when they should.  


On the BVC you may remain in Australia until your visa application is decided but you are trapped here with no permission to leave and re-enter and no ability even to apply for it. They also come with no permission to work and if you need to, there is a requirement need to prove your almost at the point of knocking of the Salvation Army's door for your nightly feed and sleeping arrangements.


The D variety however is a rarely sighted but is essentially a reluctant sleeping Casper. It hibernates in the shadows and is only woken when some disaster has struck you being unable for some reason to lodge your application before your substantive via expires in the next three working days.  


The BVD actually begrudgingly assists you not to have a record of unlawfulness which is handy when applying for citizenship later but it is so rare case officers probably themselves do not know they exist. They last for only 5 workings days before they vaporize back to the realm of obscurity. It doesn't like being disturbed and you can only call them out twice in your lifetime for after that they refuse to materialise.


E's are the worst. Your karma has ensured they exist because you been a bad person by ignoring the immigration laws of Australia.


BVE's do not appear automatically because of a visa application. They must summoned and conjured into reality by the control freaks in the DIBP Compliance Section. The BVE's have serious dark-side attitudes. You know the types, those that dream of having real power but since they can't they make sure your life becomes miserable too.


Your fate will temporarily be in their hands and they will enjoy making sure you understand this. They may even whisper to you in the dead of night to remind you of your appointment with the DIBP next day. BVE's are given to either deport you or to let you stay here on a short leash while your application is decided. You will have to grovel for permission for just about everything except the right to breath and eat.


Of course there is always more to say about Bridging visas and more of them exist than the most common mentioned above, but I wouldn't want to give nightmares to those who may be depending upon them as I write.


Sleep well. 

Expand your mind! 
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Looking to expand your knowledge on Immigration matters?

Our Historical Archives might just do the trick.

For example, those who are on the 498/487 visa subclasses should read Volume 276 for here we discussed the obligations of the special visa conditions attached.

There are many other interesting bits and pieces in various volumes as well.

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Jee Eun Han

   Executive Manager

           Jee Eun Han

Australian Immigration Law Services






Karl Konrad

    Managing Director

          Karl Konrad

Australian Immigration Law Services


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