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Frequently Asked Questions

IMMIGRATION LAW

What Is A Bridging Visa?

A Bridging visa is a temporary visa that allows you to stay in Australia when you do not hold a ‘substantive’ visa. In simple terms, a ‘Bridging’ often serves as a ‘bridge’ between two ‘substantive’ visas.

For example, if you hold a Student visa that is valid until 31st December 2020. But you wish to gain some practical experience in Australia before returning to your home country. One day before your Student visa expires, you apply for a Temporary Graduate Visa (subclass 485). The Department of Home Affairs needs, let’s say, two months to decide on your subclass 485 visa. Hence, to cover the gap between 31st December 2020 to 28th February 2021, you will be granted a ‘bridging visa.’ If you do not hold any visa during this period, you will become an ‘unlawful non-citizen’ in Australia.

What Are The Different Types Of Bridging Visas?

A Bridging visa does not come into effect as long as you hold a substantive visa. You cannot travel outside Australia if you are on a bridging visa, except if you hold a Bridging visa B.

Each Bridging visa has different requirements to satisfy and gives you different entitlements.

Bridging Visa A - generally allows you to live and work in Australia as long as your application for a ‘substantive’ visa is undecided.

Bridging visa B - it is like Bridging visa A, but ‘with wings’. That means, if you hold a Bridging visa B, you may travel outside Australia and return within the given time frame.

Bridging visa C - it is generally granted when you apply for a substantive visa while holding no substantive visa. Or, you have challenged a decision in relation to your visa in a court for a judicial review of the decision. Generally, you will not be granted ‘work rights’ with this visa. However, you can apply for work rights if you are facing substantial financial difficulties.

Bridging Visa E - This visa is granted to those who become ‘unlawful non-citizens’ in Australia or waiting for a decision on their substantive visa application (for example, Protection visa application). A person who has ‘overstayed’ their visa, or whose visa has been canceled or an unlawful non-citizen who is planning to leave Australia may be granted a Bridging visa E.

Most of these visas are FREE to apply for. Others may incur a small fee (e.g., Bridging Visa B).

What Is A Substantive Visa?

‘Substantive’ visa means any visa that is NOT a bridging visa, for example, a Student visa, Partner visa, Visitor visa, Protection visa, etc. An individual who is not an Australian citizen must hold a valid substantive visa or a Bridging visa at all times in Australia to avoid becoming an ‘unlawful non-citizen’ in Australia.

Can A Substantive Visa Be Canceled At Any Time?

Yes, A substantive visa (or a Bridging visa) may be cancelled at any time for various reasons. For example, where the Department of Home Affairs is convinced that a person has provided false or misleading information or a bogus document or you breach your visa conditions, then the Department may consider cancellation of your visa.

Please see ‘visa cancellation and challenging visa cancellation’ on our website.

What happens if I become unlawful in Australia?

If you enter Australia unlawfully or become unlawful after legally entering Australia (for example, by overstaying or after your visa has been cancelled) then you will be required to leave Australia. However, you may be eligible to apply for a substantive visa soon after becoming an unlawful citizen if you can explain and justify your unlawfulness (for example, if you become unlawful because of circumstances that were beyond your control, e.g., accident or natural disaster). You will generally need a Bridging Visa E to leave Australia if you do not hold any other valid visa.

 

If, after becoming an unlawful non-citizen in Australia, you neither apply for a visa nor depart Australia, you may be detained and deported to your home country.

 

If you are an unlawful non-citizen in Australia as well as a ‘stateless person’ and you cannot/do-not obtain a visa then you may be detained indefinitely. A ‘stateless person’ is a person who is not considered a national of any State/Country; or, where a country does not accept someone to be a national/citizen of that country under its laws.

Can I apply for Australian Partner Visa?

It depends on whether or not you can satisfy the Australian Partner visa criteria. If you are genuinely in a married or de facto relationship with an Australian permanent resident or an Australian citizen or an Eligible New Zealand citizen, then you may qualify for an Australian Partner visa.

If you apply for your Partner visa while you are outside Australia, then you generally will need to apply for a temporary Partner visa (subclass 309). Once you arrive in Australia on your subclass 309 visa and you genuinely stay with your Australian partner/Sponsor for two years, then after two years, you may be granted a permanent Partner visa (subclass 100). There is no fee for a subclass 309 (or subclass 801) Partner visa. That’s right! However, temporary and permanent visa applications are made together (that is, at the same time). Therefore, you will need to pay for the permanent Partner visa at the time of making your application for a temporary Partner visa, which starts from AUD$8,085.

If you are in Australia (onshore) at the time of submitting your temporary Partner visa, then you must apply for a subclass 820 Partner visa. Again, you will be paying a fee for your permanent Partner visa (subclass 801) at the time of lodging your temporary Partner visa.

In some circumstances, you will not necessarily need to satisfy the 2-year genuine relationship requirement, and you can request the Department to grant you a permanent Partner visa instead of a temporary Partner visa, for example, if you hold a Humanitarian visa or have been in a ‘long-term’ relationship. A ‘Long-term’ partner relationship means you have been in that relationship for at least three years. OR you have been in that relationship for, at least, two years, and you have a child from your relationship with your Sponsor/Australian partner.

When Can I Lodge My Permanent Partner Visa?

The answer to your question "When should I lodge my Permanent Partner visa in Australia?" depends upon when you lodged your temporary Partner visa.

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Generally, you can lodge your permanent Partner visa (also known as 2nd stage Partner visa) two years after the lodgement of your first/temporary Partner visa application. Again, the 2-year time which you need to satisfy before you can be granted your permanent Partner visa starts running from the day you lodged your temporary Partner visa application. It is a common misconception that this two-year time period starts running from the date of grant of your temporary Partner visa.

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For example, if you lodged your temporary Partner visa on 01 January 2018. It was granted on 01 January 2019. You can lodge your Permanent Partner visa application on 02 January 2020, (i.e. two years after the lodgement of your first/temporary Partner visa.)

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In some circumstances, you do not need to wait for two years to get your Australian permanent Partner visa.

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Contact us if you have been in a long-term relationship with your Partner and need help with your Partner visa for Australia.

Can I apply For a De Facto Partner Visa If I Am Married To Someone Else?

Yes, you may be able to apply for an Australian Partner Visa if you are a de facto partner of an Australian citizen, permanent resident, or an Eligible New Zealand citizen, even if you are legally married to someone else. However, you cannot marry another person unless you secure a formal divorce from your former spouse.

You will have to satisfy all the criteria and requirements of a de facto Partner visa (for example, 12 months of genuine relationship, commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others, etc.). Besides, you will also have to satisfy the visa officer as to why you are not able to get a formal divorce. You will have to convince the visa officer that you are living apart from your former spouse on a permanent basis.

It is a complex issue, and you should consider seeking professional assistance with your Partner visa to avoid any complications and delays in processing. To read more click on: Can I Apply For A Partner Visa To Live With My New Partner, If I am already Married To Someone Else?.

What Kind of Relationship Evidence Is Required For a Partner Visa Application?

There are no specific documents that a Partner visa applicant must submit with their Partner visa application. Required documents will depend on various factors. For instance, the nature of the relationship, visa status of the Sponsor in Australia, location of the visa applicant and his/her circumstances, etc., may play a significant role in determining what documents must, or maybe, be provided.

However, a standard Partner visa application should accompany documentary evidence that sufficiently sheds light upon the nature of the applicant’s household, the social aspect of the applicant and Australian Sponsor’s relationship, any joint financial commitments, as well as the evidence of ongoing mutual contact, etc.

If the Australian Sponsor of the applicant holds a humanitarian visa (for example, subclass 866 visa), then the visa officer may be requested to consider any difficulties faced by the Sponsor in collecting and submitting all the relevant documents. In such cases, even the minimum supporting evidence may be regarded as sufficient.

We Have Not Lived Together For 12 Months, Can We Apply For De Facto Partner Visa?"

 

Twelve months ‘living together’ requirement is a crucial criterion of a de facto Partner visa application. This 12-months period is counted from the day two individuals commit to becoming de facto partners. It does not start from the day they met with each other (unless they committed to becoming de facto partners of each other in their very first meeting!)

The requirement of ‘living together’ for 12 months does not necessarily mean that a couple must be living with each other all the time under one roof. From time to time, they may be living apart, for example, for work-related commitments or medical reasons (e.g., admitted to a hospital). However, a couple must satisfy the visa officer that they were not living apart on a permanent basis; or even though they were living apart, they were still in a de facto relationship.

In some Australian states (e.g., ACT, Tasmania, Victoria), a couple may register their de facto relationship. The effect of such registration on a de facto Partner visa is that they will not need to comply with the one-year relationship requirement. It is a voluntary registration. There is no legal requirement to register your de facto relationship in these states.

How to Complete Form 888 For Partner Visas?

A Form-888 can only be completed by a witness who is an Australian citizen or Australian permanent resident who knows the visa applicant and his/her spouse/partner. Witnesses must reasonably know the relationship history of the applicant with the spouse/Sponsor. Witnesses must be at least 18 years of age.

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If a Form-888 is completed by a witness who is not an Australian citizen or permanent resident of Australia, then it will still be considered as supporting evidence. However, it will not be taken as a Statutory Declaration. Hence, if you cannot find an Australian citizen witness, you should still submit at least two Forms-888 in support of your Partner visa.

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Make sure your Forms-888 are properly witnessed by an authorised person in the country of the witness (for example, an Oath Commissioner or a Justice of Peace). The 'Authorised person' must provide details of their occupation at the bottom of the Form when certifying a Form-888.

Can the Visa Officer request more than two Forms-888?

Yes. . If the Visa Officer asks for more than two Forms-888, you must provide them, unless you have some very good explanation for not doing so. You must advise your visa officer, at the earliest, as to why you cannot provide additional Forms-888.

Is This Applicant Related To The Sponsor By Blood, Marriage Or Adoption?"

There is a question in the Partner visa application form that often confuses many applicants who are in a married relationship. The question asks: "Is this applicant related to the sponsor by blood, marriage, or adoption?"

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You are 'related by marriage' to your in-laws (e.g., brother-in-law, mother-in-law, etc.)

Also, you should select "NO" in answer to this question, if you are not within the prohibited relationships (for example, you are not an adoptive/biological brother or sister of your spouse). Otherwise, incest would be implied.

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You should say "YES", if you are a cousin (e.g., first cousin) of your spouse. In a case, AAT stated that "the Tribunal considers that the form of the question requires the applicant to disclose the existence of any known blood relationship no matter how distant [...]."

Cousin marriages are valid marriages under Australian laws.

Will I Have To Pay a Fee For Partner Visa If I Hold A Prospective Marriage Visa?

The short answer is YES.

If you hold a Prospective Marriage visa and wish to apply for an onshore Partner visa (subclass 820/801) then you will have to pay a visa application fee of AUD$1,285.

If you entered Australia holding a Prospective Marriage visa but at the time of lodging your Partner visa you do not hold a Prospective Marriage visa OR another substantive visa then you will be required to pay AUD$1630.

[Note that there is NO fee for the temporary Partner visa. So, the AUD$1,285 or AUD$1630 which you will pay for your onshore Partner visa will be used for the permanent Partner visa].

[Ref: item 1124B]

Is Proxy/'online' Marriage Considered A Valid Marriage In Australia For Partner Visa Purposes?

A proxy marriage (also commonly referred to as 'online marriage') may be considered a valid marriage in Australia for the purposes of Australian Partner Visas if the applicant is able to satisfy the visa officer that their proxy marriage is valid and in accordance with the law of the country in which it was solemnised.

 

* The term 'proxy marriage' does not necessarily mean an 'online marriage'. A proxy marriage may or may not be solemnised 'online'. There are other specific requirements for a 'proxy marriage' to be recognised as valid in Australia.

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Warning! Please note that Australian immigration laws, policies, directions, etc., are highly complex and very dynamic. Therefore, no information provided on this website is intended to be legal advice for anyone. You must seek professional legal advice specifically addressing your questions and issues. Please read our Terms and Conditions.

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