5 Sep 2019

Bridging Visa Blowout | Why the number of people waiting on a visa decision in Australia has increased

In the past five years there has been a significant increase in the number of people in Australia who have been issued a Bridging Visa while waiting for a decision on their substantive visa application.

Latest figures released by the Department of Home Affairs show 229,000 people held a Bridging Visa in Australia in March 2019, which is over double the number of people in 2014.

The media has compared the increase of around 100,000 people to “the population of Hobart,” as the size of Australia’s temporary migration program comes under scrutiny.

What is a bridging visa?

A Bridging Visa allows a person to stay in Australia lawfully while their immigration status is being resolved. Different Bridging Visas are available depending on a person’s circumstances.

A person may be eligible to obtain a Bridging Visa if it is likely that their current visa will expire while waiting for their new visa to be finalised.

Bridging Visas can also be issued if a visa decision is being assessed by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

Why have the number of bridging visas increased?

Bridging Visas appear to be on the rise as waiting times for visa decisions increase. Here are some of the contributing factors.

An increase in migrant arrivals

According to Senator Linda Reynolds, who represents the Department of Home Affairs, the growth in Bridging Visas may have been caused by a general increase in migrant arrivals.

Ms Reynolds believes this has led to a greater number of people applying for a second visa to stay in Australia.

Ms Reynolds says, “As numbers increase, of course you will get an increase in all sorts of categories of people arriving, and making claims to stay.”

“So you would expect that number to grow merely by the fact of the amount of people who come here by air.”

More rigorous assessments of applications

Government processing times have also increased in recent years, which may be due to the level of rigour required to assess visa applications – particularly in relation to character and integrity, sponsorship compliance and genuineness.

This increase in waiting periods for visa decisions has led to a greater need for Bridging Visas.

Peter McDonald, a professor in Demography at the University of Melbourne, believes the number of bridging visas is now “enormous compared to any past history.” 

According to Mr McDonald, the growth has not only resulted from an increase in arrivals into Australia, but also queues for visas, such as permanent residence Partner Visas.

A higher rate of visa refusals

The Department of Home Affairs reported a 46% increase in visa refusals in 2017-18 compared to the previous year.

This has led to a significant number of applications requiring an assessment by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and consequently, more people needing a Bridging Visa while appealing a visa decision.

Migration Connections Made Simple

Immigracious assist both employers and prospective migrants with the visa and sponsorship process.

Simply contact our Registered Migration Agents on or 08 6263 4406 to discuss how we can assist you.


Immigracious’ Registered Migration Agents

ABC News

Sydney Morning Herald

Sheila Woods

Posted by: Sheila Woods

A very experienced migration agent, Sheila has always been fascinated by this field. Her university degree thesis was on Australia’s post-war immigration history (and it earned her first-class honours).

Filed in: Uncategorized


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