With the increasing processing times for onshore international student GSM applications, it’s inevitable that applicants are going to want to return home, sometimes for long periods, until their PR application is ready to be finalised.
The problem with BVB’s is that they generally allow an applicant to remain outside Australia for a maximum of 3 months, unless there are exceptional circumstances (see below for details on the BVB and Visitor Visa options). Therefore, if an applicant is prepared to wait outside Australia until his/her visa is ready to be granted, the Visitor Visa option may be the best way to proceed as a means to return to Australia.
It’s important, however, to inform the Department of Immigration in writing of the applicant’s intentions and overseas address, and to make it clear that once the application is ready to be finalised the applicant will return to Australia for visa grant.
Bridging Visa B (BVB) option
If an applicant for a BVB is awaiting a decision in relation to their substantive visa application, and the circumstances applicable for grant of that visa require that an applicant be in Australia at the time of grant, expectations as to when that application will be decided should be taken into account when determining the period which should be allowed for travel. In addition, the period which should be allowed for travel should be taken into account in the future processing of the substantive visa application. A substantive visa should not be refused, for instance, on the basis of a failure to satisfy the circumstances applicable to grant where the applicant is a BVB holder who is out of Australia and the visa is still in effect.
Visitor Visa option
Persons who have returned to their home country after lodging an onshore GSM application might seek a tourist visa to re-enter Australia if they do not hold a valid BVB. Visitor policy Section supports the facilitation of entry on tourist visas for GSM applicants who have been assessed as meeting the GSM criteria and advised that their visa will be granted on re-entering Australia.
Offshore applicants for GSM visas who have not been advised that their GSM visa will be granted should not be granted a tourist visa. Allowing persons in these circumstances to re-enter Australia raises the expectation that the GSM visa will be granted and may lead to a prolonged stay onshore without a substantive visa.
General Skilled Migration (GSM) applicants
The number of BVB applications is increasing largely due to delays in finalising GSM applications. The processing delays are a result of an increased GSM application rate and s499 Direction No. 45 on GSM application priority processing.
Generally, it is considered that GSM applicants should be working in Australia and contributing to the Australian economy. However, it is also recognised that in the current processing climate GSM applicants affected by processing delays will have substantial reasons (including taking holidays). It is seen as reasonable that the Department support all requests for a BVB travel facility of up to three months, as long as all relevant BVB criteria are met.
Requests for travel facility periods longer than three months may be considered in exceptional circumstances e.g. care of terminally ill relatives, legal proceedings or educational, business or professional purposes or obligations where the applicant has evidence from their Australian employer or educational institution supporting the need to travel. Wishing to leave Australia to seek work overseas because GSM applicants have been unable to gain work in Australia would not be considered an exceptional circumstance.