When should you lodge your partner visa application?

“My partner is on a tourist visa and going back to the UK next month. So we are just going to apply  while Meg is in the UK. She has all her documents and photos  there so its going to be much easier that way for us. Meg needs to go to a wedding there plus she wants to spend more time with her family before settling here”

I gasp, thinking of all the ways I can possibly think to convince him not to do that, without sounding like I’m rail roading him into changing an important decision, going against what they believe is best for them.

This is because if Meg applies in the UK she is most likely going to have to stay outside Australia throughout the entire processing of the visa application.  Now this can be a year or more (although I proudly claim for some of my clients I have had partner visa grants within 4 weeks).  This means that there will be perhaps an entire year or more that Meg cannot enter Australia!  No, Meg can’t even come over on a tourist visa unless there is strong and convincing evidence that Meg would leave before a tourist  visa expired.   The reason is due to immigration’s policy.

Policy holds that a case officer, the person who assesses any visa application,  must refuse a tourist visa if they doubt an applicant intends to come to Australia for just a visit.  They will most likely not believe that an applicant is just going to visit Australia if they are in a relationship with an Australian citizen or permanent resident. They will very likely write back, acting on the policy:

Decision-makers are are guided to consider…whether there any other more suitable visa options for the visa

Subsequently Meg is most likely to be advised to apply for a partner visa, if it has not been lodged yet. If it has been lodged Meg will most likely be told that they do not believe Meg’s intentions are to visit Australia only and then refuse the visa.  Usually this is devastating for couples.  A visit visa might be granted if strong and convincing reasons can be established showing Meg would return to the UK before the visit visa expired.  However, so many people in this situation return back to their home country to no job, and no intention to apply for a job because they plan to settle in Australia. Not being able to show significant employment to a case officer very much goes against a positive tourist visa application assessment.

Meg and her Sponsor could try what they want to do which is wait for Meg to go back to the UK, lodge a partner visa application while over there, and then apply for a visit visa to come back to Australia. But the chances of a visit visa refusal is high could easily lead to much disappointment and heartache.

I have seen countless numbers of visit visas refused where couples have opted to apply outside Australia (sometimes this is their only option of course).  It is usually heartbreaking and distressing for all family and friends involved.   I hate to see couples separated due to immigration law and policy even for brief periods of time – so will always urge the following strategy, if possible, and of course based on eligibility for the partner visa.

STEP 1 Strive to collect all the minimum ‘time of application’ requirements to be able to lodge a Partner Visa before Meg leaves Australia. If there are any mandatory documents that Meg does not have in Australia she should ask family or friends to obtain them, scan and email them to Meg.  (There are different requirements for ‘time of application’ and ‘time of decision’ on whether or not to grant the visa).  

STEP 2 Use the Bridging Visa A details obtained when the partner visa is lodged to apply for a Bridging Visa B.  The Bridging Visa A is granted to allow Meg to stay in Australia, after her cuurent visa expires, while a decision is being made on the partner visa application. This visa will allow Meg to leave Australia but not re-enter.  The bridging visa which allows Meg to leave and re-enter is the Bridging Visa B. This usually needs 2 weeks to process so you can see how quickly Meg and her Sponsor should take action if she wishes to go back to the UK a month later.  I will most likely be able to help clients achieve a bridging visa more quickly if necessary.  You cannot apply for a Bridging Visa B without the Bridging Visa A.

STEP 3 Meg goes back home to the UK continuing to gather significant documents to add to the partner via application. All the’ time of application requirements’ would be submitted so it’s about sending documents to meet the’ time of decision’ requirements.   They should be sent to immigration as soon as possible.  Requests for extensions of time to provide documents can be made also.  Meg has a great time and after a month she returns back to Australia easily.  In Meg’s case she  will have full work rights and can commence employment while waiting for an outcome on the partner visa application.

So in this case, it is far better to lodge sooner, rather than later, and before leaving Australia.




FAKE NEWS and bridging visas


I’m giving  you the right advice so you truly know your travel options and rights if you happen to be, or are soon to be, holding a Bridging Visa A.

I have encountered countless examples of people who believe they cannot apply for a Bridging Visa B if their Bridging Visa A is ‘not yet in effect’.   If you have a Bridging Visa A you can leave Australia but cannot return.  So you need to apply for a Bridging Visa B if you want to leave and return. You cannot apply for a Bridging Visa B (BVB) if you do not have a Bridging Visa A.    What if you have a Bridging Visa A (BVA)  but it is not yet in effect? Many think they cannot apply for a BVB.

I include an image below of a question in a popular online forum.    So this person, I will call him Mr X, has heard that he cannot get a BVB until his student visa expires.  What has happened here is Mr X would have received a BVA grant letter stating the BVA will not ‘come into effect’ until the student visa expires. He would have received a BVA when he applied for the Subclass 485 visa.   Someone has told Mr X that he has to wait until the BVA comes into effect (at the time the student visa expires) to be able to apply for a Bridging Visa.

But it is not true! Mr X could have applied for the BVB and travelled back home when he wanted! I will explain: 

A person can be a holder of a Bridging Visa A even if it is not in effect.

A person is granted a BVA on the basis of a substantive visa application.  Yes it is true that it does not come into effect until the expiry of the previous visa however that person is a holder of the Bridging Visa A.   A holder of a BVA can apply for a BVB.

From Immigration’s own Procedures Advice Manual (what the case officers should be following and understanding)

[P Sch2.BV-29.2] Bridging visa can come into effect and cease to be in effect during visa period.
Although a bridging visa is ‘held’ for the visa period, it can be in effect or not in effect during the visa period. It is ‘in effect’ on those occasions during the visa period when the holder does not hold a substantive visa or another bridging visa that is more beneficial than the first-mentioned bridging visa (refer also to Most beneficial bridging visa).
The BVA example below illustrates this:
• when a BVA is granted, it will not come into effect until the substantive visa (if any) held by the person ceases to be in effect — refer to 010.511(a)(ii), 010.513(a)(ii) and 010.514(a)(ii)
• this means that the visa period has started and the person ‘holds’ the BVA even though it is not in effect until the substantive visa ceases”

To really emphasise this point and to show how common this misunderstanding is look at the inaccurate professional advice (image) below:  “if you are on a Bridging Visa A …it is in effect…you can apply for a Bridging Visa B”.   No-  there is no need to include as a condition that the BVA is is in effect. 


This is what the law says:

020.211 The applicant is the holder of:

  • (a) a Bridging A (Class WA) visa; or
  • (b) a Bridging B (Class WB) visa. 
Note that the regulations state that an applicant for a BVB is a holder of a BVA, it does not require that the BVA is also in effect.  Recently I was told by a person that they called Immigration’s own information number to be told the opposite.  I was exasperated!   I ended up obtaining written confirmation from Immigration that the BVA does not need to be in effect to apply for a BVA.  The Bridging Visa legislation is quite complex, even conditions that may seem clear to you can be easily misinterpreted.   It’s a logical mistake to make – that you can’t apply for a BVB if your BVA is not in effect (reminder: you can) – but the consequence of that mistake is such a disadvantage.  I hate to think of those who needed to return home for a significant family event and were unable due to this misunderstanding.