Overseas travel while holding a bridging visa

Bridging visas can be quite confusing, and so too is understanding when you can and cannot travel on a bridging visa. In this article, we outline how bridging visas operate, to help you understand when you can and cannot travel.

A bridging visa is automatically granted to a person who makes an application for a visa while in Australia. The purpose of a bridging visa is to "bridge" the gap between your current visa expiring and a decision on the lodged application.

While a bridging visa is granted at the time an application is lodged, it does not become active until your current visa expires and in many cases, the bridging visa never becomes active.

In cases where the bridging visa does become active you must remember:

  • Bridging Visa A has no travel facility – this means you can depart Australia on this visa but do not expect to re-enter on it
  • if you wish to travel you need to apply for a Bridging Visa B. This must be granted before you depart Australia
  • the travel facility on Bridging Visa B is often only short – to cover the period of your planned trip. If you need to travel again, you need to ensure your Bridging Visa B covers future travel.

If you depart Australia while holding a bridging visa you may not be allowed to board the plane to return without first applying for a visa – often a visitor visa. This means, if you departed Australia on bridging visa that had work rights, returning on a visitor visa means you lose those work rights until your bridging visa is reinstated. As a bridging visa cannot be reinstated until your current visa expires, you may have no work rights for up to three months.

Please note our summary above relates to standard applications where there is no complexity – eg. Holders of Bridging Visas A and B only. Different rules apply to those people holding Bridging Visas C or E.

This publication does not deal with every important topic or change in law and is not intended to be relied upon as a substitute for legal or other advice that may be relevant to the reader's specific circumstances. If you have found this publication of interest and would like to know more or wish to obtain legal advice relevant to your circumstances please contact one of the named individuals listed.