If your partner is already in Australia legally on a tourist or working visa and has applied for a partner visa, the process can take a very long time, possibly more than 12 months.
Assuming your spouse wants to remain in Australia while waiting for the partner visa to come through, there is an answer – a bridging visa. These are short term visas which can be issued quickly. A bridging visa will enable them to stay in Australia for a period of time while the Department of Immigration considers their substantive (long term) partner visa application.
There are in fact two main types of bridging visas: type A (BVA), which assumes the holder is going to stay in Australia for the duration, and type B (BVB), which allows travel out of the country and back again.
What type will be issued?
When your partner lodges a valid application for a substantive visa while legally living in Australia, they will be issued with a BVA. This will usually enable them to continue under the same terms as their previous visa, so if it was a working visa they will still be allowed to work.
One thing your partner should not do on a BVA is leave the country. They will have no problem getting out of Australia, but if they try to get back in again, they will be turned back. This can lead to all sorts of problems with the ongoing substantive visa application and they could be refused a tourist visa as well.
What if they need to travel outside Australia?
If your partner needs to leave the country while holding a BVA, they can apply for a BVB. The application needs to include the specific dates on which they’re travelling. It is not possible to have one issued on the off-chance that they will be going overseas at some point.
The flexibility of the BVB must be carefully noted on the grant notice. It could only be limited for single use, or multiple travels in and out of Australia. The validity date of the BVB must also be noted. All travel must be completed and they must be back in Australia before the end date, or their visa will be invalid. If they need to travel again later, they must reapply to have a new BVB which includes the new travel dates.
It is recommended that the BVB application be submitted at least two (2) weeks before the planned travel date. It can either be applied electronically or manually using a form submitted to one of the DIBP offices. Needless to say, an electronic application tend to be finalised quicker and the process is relatively simple. However, the option of an electronic or manual application for a BVB largely depends on the individual's circumstance and how the initial visa was submitted.
Can I apply for a bridging visa for my partner who is overseas?
No, bridging visas are only issued to people applying for visas from within Australia.
Are children covered by bridging visas?
Not automatically. If there are several family members who were included in the initial visa application, Individual applicants must be specified in the BVB application.
What if our circumstances change?
If your partner has a bridging visa, and you move to a new house, have a pregnancy, birth or death in your family, you must inform the Department of Immigration.
Finding your way around the Australian visa system can be complex. Here at Visa Solutions Australia we can advise you on the best visa option for you. We are a registered migration agency with offices in Perth and the surrounding area. Our team has extensive expert knowledge so why not contact us today?