Bridging visa applications now available online

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s (DIBP’s) IT workers were busy last week over the night of 30 June 2016 – 1 July 2016. ImmiAccount was shut down from 7 pm on 30 June for a few necessary tweaks.

The major change was, of course, the forms for student and student guardian visas that saw new regulations coming into effect on 1 July 2016. What may have been missed by many during this upgrade was that certain Bridging visas are now available for those who have visa applications pending a decision and were lodged online. This feature provides a level of convenience that will be appreciated by visa applicants and migration agents. Previously, it was necessary to post paper-based bridging visa applications to the DIBP and wait and hope that they had been received, receipted, and assessed. The ghastly alternative was to line up at a DIBP office and lodge over the counter.

Instead of a separate application, the visa applicant can now use the “Update Us” link to apply for a bridging visa. From there they can select from: seek permission to travel outside Australia, apply for a Bridging visa B; seek permission to work, change a condition on a current Bridging visa; to replace a ceased Bridging visa; and a mysterious “Other” category to apply for a Bridging visa. The addition of Bridging visas, along with the ability to update the DIBP with authorised recipient details, contact information, passport details, changes in circumstances, and incorrect answers, can only be seen as a benefit to assist in properly managing a visa application through to a decision.

Regarding Bridging visas, many visa applicants fail to appreciate or understand the significance of them, their use, and their necessity in the migration framework. There is good reason for this. There are seven different Bridging visa classes, and all have a certain job to do. Without getting into the specifics of each one, the Bridging visa programme is designed to give non-citizens some form of lawful status in Australia. Whether a visa applicant meets the requirements to be granted a Bridging visa, is automatically granted a Bridging visa, or even if a granted Bridging visa will ever come into effect, are important questions migration agents tend to receive from clients, and have different answers for, depending on their individual circumstances.