So there’s a pretty big secret I’ve been keeping from you for the last few months. Don’t worry I haven’t done anything dodgy. I’ve just been concealing a teeny, tiny secret that has a big impact on a travel blogger – my visa status does not give me the right to travel.
*truth bomb goes off*
Let me explain.
In 2010 I met a man on Twitter. This man lived in London but was from Melbourne, Australia. His name was Justin. This Aussie expat wooed me, travelled with me and we lived together in London for a couple of years until we decided, ‘hey it’s been cool living in Jayne’s country, let’s go try Justin’s for a bit.’
So in June 2014 we moved to Sydney, Australia (coz beach, harbour, sunshine and stuff) and I entered on a Working Holiday Visa, which allowed me to live and work in Australia for 12 months. Little known fact is that you can be self-employed on a Working Holiday Visa. So I carried on doing my thing, making sure that I stuck to the rule that you must not work for the same company for more than 6 months by taking only short-term social media contracts. All was fine and dandy until Justin and I decided we really liked it here. Business and life in general were going well for both of us and we’d like to stay longer than 1 year. Not a problem for him with his Aussie passport but a slight issue for Pommy me.
We looked into the options.
Option 1: I could do some farm work for 3 months in order to get a second year on my Working Holiday Visa. We both looked at this option and laughed. Anyone who has ever met me will understand but to give you context I was once sent to the grocers to buy cauliflower and came back with a cabbage. I thought it needed ‘unwrapping’.
Option number 2: I apply for a full-time role with an Aussie company and see if they will sponsor me. I’d just spent the last 4 years building a freelance business. This was a stupid idea.
Option 3: We apply for a partner visa for me on the basis of our relationship. Justin and I fully qualified for this option and could tick all the boxes. (There are a LOT of boxes. It took 3 months to gather the evidence on our relationship – statutory declarations, pictures, travel tickets etc – you can read more about this process here.) But there were a couple of catches. Firstly this visa is pricey ($6865 is a lot of flights!) and secondly if you apply within Australia (ie where I currently live) you must remain inside Australia until the department makes a decision on your application. The visa processing time at the time I applied (last April) was estimated to be 12 to 18 months.
But with no other viable options available to us, this travel blogger had to clip her wings.
A friendly lady at the immigration office informed me that my Bridging Visa (this is what they give you to allow you to reside and work in Australia whilst they make a decision) would not come into effect until my Working Holiday Visa ran out. This meant I had inbetween April and June 2015 to make one last trip home to see my family until who knew when.
By this point Justin had proposed (on my 30th birthday in Thailand, the old romantic) so I popped home to celebrate with my family and bid them goodbye with the words ‘see you at the wedding’.
The more astute people amongst you may be thinking about now, ‘But didn’t this girl just go to Hogmanay,” and “I swear I saw her in Bangkok‘. And you would be right.
It turns out there are a few exceptions to this no travel rule. I haven’t quite worked out what they are but I did manage to fall under them twice over the last 8 months.
>> Please note: These are just some thoughts based on my personal experience. I am not a migration expert and this does not constitute legal advice. Please contact the Department of Immigration or an immigration lawyer directly for questions relating to your personal circumstances. Unfortunately I unable to answer any messages regarding your applications – you’ll find everything I know here already. <<
In my experience I found that if you would like to leave Australia whilst on a Bridging Visa A (the one I was issued whilst waiting to the temporary partner visa to be processed) you must apply for Bridging Visa B. Bridging Visa B gives you the right to travel (for certain not-specifically-defined reasons) but applications will only be approved 2 weeks before the date of travel and applying costs $145 each time.
In October a lovely client offered to send me to the travel blogging conference TBEX in Bangkok. They bought me a ticket, I put in my application for Bridging Visa B and then I sweated for 8 weeks waiting to find out if I could go. I didn’t book flights until I heard back because I was already liable for the cost of the conference ticket if the approval didn’t come through and didn’t want flight cancellation fees on my hands too. When the approval did (thankfully) come through it was just 2 weeks before the event so I paid through the nose for flights at the last minute. They weren’t even direct.
The Bridging Visa B that came through was valid for 3 months though – 3 whole months of freedom people! But as it so happened I already had blogging projects confirmed for Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef during that time. (This really isn’t a bad country to be ‘trapped’ – it’s more knowing that I can’t go anywhere whenever I want that freaks me out.)
Fast forward to December and an invite arrives in my inbox to be part of the blogging team for Edinburgh’s Hogmanay – a fantastic experience and wonderful project I’d been lucky enough to be a part of 2 years prior. I accept without hesitating, arranging to have some bonus time with my family before flying back to Oz again. Except I forgot 1 minor detail – my Bridging Visa B was due to expire 1 week before I planned to be back in Sydney. Crossing my fingers, holding my breath, trying not to die – I go back to the immigration office near Central Station and put in a second application for Bridging Visa B. Somewhere in the Aussie Outback I receive the joyous news that it’s been granted and just after Christmas off to the UK I go.
Why do I share this with you now?
Well firstly because of my self-imposed honesty mission for 2016. I just wanted to share that it’s not all sunshine and rainbows running a travel blog (especially if you can’t travel – dur!).
And secondly because I logged onto my IMMI account today (the online system where you ask the Aussie government to let you stay) and it had 3 magic words in the application status bar:
“Assessment in progress.”
Up until this point it just showed that it had been submitted. This small change of status is a big deal.
I don’t want to get my hopes up but after almost a year of not knowing if I can stay in Sydney much longer, asking for permission each time I want to leave the country and not knowing if or when I’ll get home to see my family again this is a joyous step towards having some sort of resolution.
Let’s just hope all goes well and I get the important permission to stay in Australia with my fiancé and regain full travel rights soonish. Afterall, I’ve got my own destination wedding to get to!
Moving to Australia? Here’s how to get set up and settled quickly
Things to know before applying for Australia Partner Visa
Applying for Temporary Partner Visa 820
34 thoughts on “How To Travel While Waiting For Australia Partner Visa – My Experience Of Bridging Visa B”
I almost snorted water out my nose thinking about you on a farm 😉 Golly it’s a painful process!
I know right?!
I like the honesty resolution
I love the cabbage story
And I laughed a lot at the pashmina and pearls reference!
Eventually all will get sorted and love will win
Til then I think you should launch a section gone to the farm on the blog and make us laugh with stories happening when you go glamping
Hahaha I do actually have a few of them that I can share already. Like the one time I thought I’d been bitten by a snake – and it turned out to be my shaving razor *red face*
Great to hear that its progressed! I hope it doesn’t take much longer for you!
Thank you – me too! I also hope that writing about it hasn’t jinxed it :s
My god, this all sounds very stressful!!! You sound like you need a break 😉
Haha exactly! And I have 2 weeks left of my current (travel permitting) visa. So see you in Bali 😉
my agent lodge my 820 partner visa but i wanted to apply for BVB my self online and couldmt find the right option or link to do it. couldnt find the option that it say permission to travel outside oz
Hi Marilyn, I applied in person at the immigration office near Central Station Sydney.
Visas are such an ongoing, stressful bloody thing – you’re handling it so well! My partner is Austrian and just the thought of trying to apply for him to come back and live in Australia for a while stresses me out. We’ll be staying in Vienna until I can man up to it 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing examples of ways to still maintain your ‘normal’ life while waiting on the interminable Visa process. And good luck, I’m sure it will come through!
Thanks so much. And good luck to you too. Let me know if I can help with anything if you decide to give the Aussie one a go!
Hello there Jayne, my name is Isaac I’m a 22 year old man from the U.S. and my Australian girlfriend Melanie and I have been together for nearly 2 years now. I met her in the U.S. when she was an aupair on a working visa.Unfortunately her visa expired and she had to move back to Australia in October 2015. We did long distance which was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. I recently went to Australia to see her in February 2016 until my tourist visa was expiring I left the end of April 2016. I’m back in the U.S. and I liked Australia more than being in America so we started the partner visa online but it is stressful and I currently don’t have enough funds to pay for it at the moment but my questions for you are 1. Do we have to live together for a year to apply for the visa? 2. Can I go to Australia on a working visa then when I have enough money for the onshore partner visa pay for it? 3. If somehow I get the money here in the U.S. after I pay for the offshore visa do I have to do a medical assessment for the visa in the U.S. Even though I don’t have a doctor or a physician? Thank you glad to read your inspiring blog. Wish you the best of luck.
Keeping fingers crossed for you. Looks like it’s all basically a waiting game. You are almost there! 🙂
Thanks so much – we hope so 🙂
Visas are my nemesis! I had a massive dilemma yesterday trying to decide if I should pay £550 for a NZ work visa I may not use. I chose not to. I hope I don’t regret it! At least Australia has a lot to offer a travel blogger. I hope the process isn’t too painful from here on.
This is true – I certainly have not been short of content or work during this time. I just get itchy feet after every few months! If only there was an EU type rule for Australasia!
I didn’t realise the visa process was so long! good luck and fingers crossed it comes through x
Me neither! Thanks so much!
Oh boy I know what this feels like! Sounds like the Aussies might be a little less rigid about it than the Americans though, what with that Bridging Visa B. I hope things move quickly for you now 🙂 I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed! Also: LOVE the cabbage story. (I am exactly the same!)
Thank you. And you’re right, I’m so glad I found out about the B option and got approved a few times, I hear the US can be a lot stricter. Justin and I laughed again last night about the cabbage incident – that’s what happens if I go to a proper grocery, lost without Sainsburys labels!
The joys of the visa process huh. Isabelle waited around 8 months for her decision to come back and get off the bridging visa so hopefully you are a littler closer now. The next step after your initial 2 years is up is a whole lot of more paperwork so yay things to look forward to as we are going through it now.
Hahah so on the one hand we may be close to getting approval but on the other there is more paperwork to come. Fun! Glad you and Isabelle got approved ok though.
I love your honesty and I hope you always keep it up!! And visas suck. If only we could have a far more open world 🙁 Like a massive “Global Entry” or something.
For sure – or at least a fast track for people who work remotely – that would be ace!
Wow, visas can get tricky! The cost of the airline tickets alone made my stomach hurt. Glad to see you are progressing, but wow, what a pain in the butt to go through! Good luck and thanks for sharing your experience!
Get used to the uncertainty, the Department of Immigration ‘on hold’ messages, and just trusting that things are happening, Jayne! It took 2 years and 2 months of uncertainty before I became a PR, and 4 years to become a citizen. And that was before half of Syria needed re homing (that’s bound to affect processing times). Visa fees have shot up in the past 4 years too. My total costs (on the same visas) were about AU $3k. Good luck! (Here’s how my experience went: http://www.theworldswaiting.com/2015/11/the-journey-to-citizenship-how-i-became.html )
Hi Liv, thanks for sharing your experience. So glad you got there successfully in the end although I’m quite jealous about how much cheaper the process was when you went through it. I’ve spent over $7k so far and am still at stage 1 :s
Hi Jane! This is a great post!! Mine got granted in April 2015 pretty much a year to the date of when I applied for the Visa 820. Best of luck
That’s great to know! We’re being processed now so hopefully not too much longer to go 🙂
Hi .. just to add a worst situation of mine to your blog. I was on student visa when i first came to australia and got engaged here in australia after a month i landed . i completed my 1st semester , went back to my home country , got married and came back to australia with my hubby( whi is australian) while i was on student visa. Now it was time for my second semester and AUD14000 sem fee. So me and my husband decided to apply for my partner visa , which we did applied on 31 dec 2014, then to avoid the course fee i voluntarily gave my student visa back in feb 2015 and they gave me bridging visa E,that has no work, no study and no travel conditions. Now its been over 16 months i havent heard anything from immi and is stuck here in australia without going home.
I’m currently hold a 9 month marriage visa but not living in Australia permanently yet. Firstly as I don’t want to leave my job in the UK until I have secured a job in Sydney and also have a teenage son to consider. We plan to marry in August this year and submit the temporary partner application. The marriage visa expires in December. What happens if I have not moved permanently to Australia when the marriage visa expires?? I hope to move permanently by March 2020 at the latest. We’ve spent so much money and time already on the marriage visa. Very stressed out! Any advice would be hugely appreciated E: firstname.lastname@example.org