Changes to Australian Bridging Visas

Published: 16/03/2009

Amendments to the Australian bridging visa rules were announced on 15th March 2009. The changes also affect non-citizen children born in Australia and the taking of securities. The purpose of the amendments is related to Parts 1, 3 and 4 of Schedule 3 of the Migration Act 1958 and has three core aims. Firstly, to give greater certainty to the immigration status and clearance of non-citizen children born in Australia. Secondly, to give clarification regarding the need for taking security for a visa application before the visa has been granted. Thirdly, for general clarification of operational provisions for bridging visas.

The amendments that relate specifically to the bridging visa category have tightened up the possible Australian visa application loop-hole of leaving the country and re-entering on a bridging visa. The core change means that anyone leaving and re-entering is considered to have continuously been in Australia. This only concerns Australian visa applications made while non-citizens are in Australia and will not affect visa applications of non-citizens made from outside the country.

These changes have been made to give tighter clarification of the dates and locations that may affect visa applications in order to give some continuity to the visa application process where small details can have a large baring on the result. For example, as of 15th March 2009, bridging visas are considered to cease the exact moment a change occurs, rather than at the end of day on which the change occurs.

For those non-citizen children born in Australia, the amendments will make it easier to distinguish when immigration clearance occurred, as the previous system had come in for some criticisms relating to the actual timing of clearance and the subsequent issues it raised for family migration or visa applications.

The amendments state that if a non-citizen child is born in Australia and a parent of the child was immigration cleared on his/her most recent entry into the country, then the child, too, is immigration cleared. Additional clarification has been given for the positive granting of visas of these non-citizen children because of a semantics issue. It was previously required for Australian visa a holder to ‘enter Australia through a port or pre-cleared flight’, but this has been amended for in-country births.

These changes relate to all visa applications made from 15th March 2009 onwards. The most important detail to note is that the exact timing of any changes now needs to be clearly noted as this is now forming part of the visa application process for non-citizen children born in Australia and those applying for bridging visas.

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