The bridge worth crossing: Can I travel overseas while on a bridging visa?

Man standing in the middle of a rocky birdge above the ocean

According to official Department of Home Affairs figures, the number of people holding bridging visas in Australia at the end of March 2019 was roughly 190,000. This number includes those who are in Australia and awaiting a decision on a visa application. It also includes those who have had a visa refused or cancelled, and have appealed that decision at the Administration Appeals Tribunal (AAT) or those who have sought further review at Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court of Australia. If you’re in Australia and planning on applying for a visa to stay in Australia, chances are you will be granted a bridging visa to keep you here until that visa decision is finalised. It’s worth knowing what you can do while you hold a bridging visa. 

What is a bridging visa?

A bridging visa is a temporary visa that is usually applied for automatically when one applies for a visa while in Australia. It allows you to stay in Australia lawfully until your visa application is decided by the Department of Home Affairs or until your application to the AAT is finalised. There are nine different subclasses of bridging visas, and which subclass is granted to a person will depend on their circumstances or location.

Bridging visa conditions

A bridging visa may have no conditions imposed on it. This means that the holder is able to work or study with no limitations while they continue to hold the bridging visa. For others, there may be conditions that carry on from the last visa held by the person. These conditions may include restrictions on the type of work you can do, the number of hours you can work, which employer you can work for, or the length of time you can work for a particular employer. There may be other conditions that restrict you to working, living and studying in a designated geographical area. Some bridging visas may even have conditions preventing you from working altogether (condition 8101). 

Travelling overseas

A bridging visa with no conditions can be misinterpreted by some people as meaning that there are no restrictions on travelling in and out of Australia. This is untrue as there is only one subclass of bridging visa that permits overseas travel and that is a BVB (subclass 020). This bridging visa is not automatically granted and only those who hold a BVA (subclass 010) or an existing holder of a BVB can apply for this visa. 

A compelling need to work

If you have a bridging visa that prevents you from working altogether, you may be able to apply for the same bridging visa but one which gives you permission to work. To do this, you will need to demonstrate why you need to work and the reasons must be strong or “compelling”. Substantial supporting evidence must be provided to show that you are experiencing financial hardship and have a compelling need to work.   

Do you need to travel overseas while on a bridging visa?

If you have compelling reasons to work while on your bridging visa or if you hold a BVA and want to travel overseas, we can help you! Contact us on (02) 8003 5330 or email us at to schedule a consultation.