Detail Question Of The Week

Tourist Visitor Visa - Bridging Visa - Request for Work Rights

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Question asked


My name is E., I'm looking for advice about my partner visa.

I'd like to give some highlights of my problem to start:

I'm a Russian passport holder and my husband is an Australian citizen. We moved to Australia from Hong Kong almost 6 months ago after he has been diagnosed with XXX and we had to move here for the treatment.

Due to special circumstances and urgency I've been granted tourist visa for 12 months by Australian visa centre in Hong Kong so I could go along with my husband to support him during the treatment.

In a month after arriving to Australia I submitted application for Australian Partner Visa and received Bridging Visa ( TYPE A) Grant Notification which I was looking forward to receive as it would give me the rights to work/study in Australia.

But it was said in the letter of notification that my Bridging Visa won't come into an effect until my current visitor visa expires. Which will be in the end of May next year.

Is there any chance to shorten the period of waiting until my current visitor visa expires for the bridging visa to take an effect? It is essential for me to have rights to work as soon as possible in current situation as my husband wasn't able to work during the treatment?

So far after talking to immigration office department on the phone I received information that I can do nothing to change the situation and if I try to cancel my current tourist visa the bridging visa will be cancel automatically with it as these two visas are linked now.

I have also met with migration agent in Melbourne once. She suggested I could apply for Visitor Visa 600 with work rights, which I didn't know even exists but she told me it is possible to get if I travel outside of Australia, to replace my current visa without work rights. The circumstances brought me and my husband to USA where we recently arrived to stay for almost a month to complete his treatment here - he required a complicated surgery which could be best performed in Indiana, USA where we are now.

So I thought I could apply for the Visitor Visa Subclass 600 with work rights while we are here as the migration agent in Australia has suggested before. She said I had to make an online application through online immi account by applying for Visitor Visa 600 and by attaching a letter and other supporting documents explaining and proving my situation that the circumstances have changed and I require to work upon returning to Australia to sustain our financial situation as my husband won't be able to work for another period of time and the treatment in America was "out of pocket" thing. She also suggested that I could ask for a multi entry for the same visa as we might need to travel again in case of complications after the surgery or reoccurrence of the cancer.

I am seeking for a second opinion about that suggestion. I want to apply for this visa while I am in USA now but I'm a bit concerned and want to double confirm that this kind of visa exists and if there is a chance it can be granted to me? I don't want to risk to apply for a visa that can't be granted and not to be able to return to Australia at all.

If this kind of visa exists and I apply for it but it is refused - what happens to my current visa in this case? Will it still be valid to travel back to Australia? Or does it automatically cancel itself as soon as I apply for a new one?

Answer provided by our agents


I have tried to summarize the policy for you here:

Applying in Australia for permission to work:

There are no provisions for a visa applicant outside Australia to apply for a visitor visa with work rights.

Visa holders in Australia can apply for a Tourist stream visa with permission to work in very limited circumstances (refer to Condition 8101 - no work).
If a Tourist stream visa is granted, the visa previously held will cease to be in effect in accordance with s82(2) of the Act. Which means your current visitor visa will cease to be in effect and the associated BVA you got when you lodged the partner visa.

When the visa is granted it is granted without a condition limiting your ability to work. This in effect will give you permission to work in Australia.

Please note that if you are seeking to apply for a Tourist stream visa with work rights attached, the new visa, while allowing you to work, may in other respects be less favorable than your current visa. For example, the period for which the visa allows you to remain in Australia and/or the period for which the visa allows travel and entry to Australia may be less favorable. Generally, if a Tourist stream visa is granted with work rights, it will not allow the holder to re-enter Australia if they choose to leave, as one of the criterion to be granted such a visa is that the applicant or a member of their family unit cannot leave Australia.

When can a visa allowing a visitor to work be granted:

To be granted a Tourist stream visa with work rights attached, you must satisfy the requirements of the associated Schedule 2 financial hardship criterion (600.6).
Permission to work may be granted where a person is applying for a Tourist stream visa and:

- is suffering financial hardship due to changed circumstances since entering Australia
- is likely to become charge on the state
- for reasons beyond their control cannot leave Australia and
- they have a compelling personal reasons to work in Australia.

The above can be explained due to your unique situation with your husband and his condition. You will need to include supporting documents as evidence.
Provided these requirements are met, 600.6 allows officers to grant a visa without condition 8101 attached.

Assessing the financial hardship criterion

There are four elements to the financial hardship criterion.

1. Change in circumstances

Under 600.611, applicants for a Tourist stream visa permitting the applicant to work must demonstrate that their need to work has arisen due to changed circumstances since entering Australia. This is because granting a visa without condition 8101 attached in general undermines the principle that visitors should have adequate funds for their support during the period of their visit and should be in Australia for tourism or business purposes only.

2. Likely to be a charge on public funds

Under 600.611, officers must be satisfied that the applicant or a member of their immediate family is likely to become a charge on public funds if work is not permitted.

3. Cannot leave Australia for reasons beyond their control

To satisfy the further criterion under 600.611, for reasons beyond the applicant's control, the applicant, or a member of the applicant's immediate family, cannot leave Australia, applicants must, under policy, be able to demonstrate that they have explored all alternatives including seeking assistance from their government representatives in Australia and/or from family/friends to allow them to leave Australia. Wanting to remain in Australia after finishing activities on another visa is not, of itself, a circumstance in which the applicant cannot leave Australia.

4. Compelling personal reasons

When assessing the criterion under 600.611, the applicant has compelling personal reasons to work in Australia, under policy, compelling personal reasons is generally taken to refer to circumstances that are involuntary and characterized by necessity such that the applicant is faced with a situation in which there is little, or no alternative, but to seek permission to work in Australia. This may be the case, for example, if the applicant has experienced a serious accident or illness. Mere inconvenience is insufficient to satisfy this provision.

Refund of VAC

Regulation 2.12F(2)(d) requires that applicants, who satisfy these criteria and are granted a visa permitting work, be refunded the visa application charge. There is no refund available if:
- a Tourist stream visa is granted, but not permitting work or
- if the grant of a Tourist stream visa is refused.

I believe, you were incorrectly advised to lodge a tourist visa with work rights from outside Australia.

You can request the condition re work be waived whilst in Australia as long as you satisfy the points noted above.

The other option if the condition cannot be waived on your current tourist visa whilst in Australia is to apply for another tourist visa whilst onshore in Australia with work rights (as noted above) - any new visa issued cancels your current visa and its associated BVA visa. (Please note that a BVA can be reinstated or applied for again if needed in particular circumstances).

I hope this has assisted in some way.

Wishing you and your husband all the best.

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Migration Agent