Aged Parent Visa Application Lodged – Can You Depart Australia and Return?

This is another question that we are being asked frequently: can an applicant for a subclass 804 Aged Parent visa depart Australia (for example to regularise their affairs overseas – such as selling a house) and return to Australia.

A Bridging Visa A (“BVA”) is issued to valid applicants for a subclass 804 visa. The BVA allows the holder to remain lawfully in Australia while the onshore visa application is being processed, and for a further period of at least 28 days following an adverse decision on the visa application.

A BVA does not provide for entry to Australia.

2 circumstances might arise:

> A visitor visa – such as an ETA or an eVisitor – might have been used for the entry to Australia. These visas often allow for multiple entry over the validity period of the visa. For example 3 month maximum stay on any one visit to Australia over a period of 12 months from the date of grant.

So long as the visitor visa remains valid the same visa can be used to re-enter Australia.

It is though prudent to ensure that the BVA remains in issue upon a return to Australia, as the act of departing and returning can cause the original BVA to be cancelled.

We find that an email exchange with the Parents Visa Centre achieves the desired level of comfort.

> If there is no valid visitor visa and a BVA is held an application should be made for a Bridging Visa B, or BVB.

This is a separate application to the Department of Immigration, for a which a relatively notional charge is payable (A$140 at the time of writing).

Application for the granting of a BVB is made to the Department on form 1005 or 1006.

Applicants must have a “substantial” reason for leaving and re-entering Australia.

Department of Immigration policy advises that: ” … a substantial reason for wishing to travel would include travel associated with the person’s:

> employment, business or education – for example:
– attending work or study conferences
– participating in business negotiations or meetings
– undertaking academic research or presenting papers

> family, other relatives or other person important to the person – for example:
– visiting a seriously ill family member, relative or close friend
– attending the wedding, or other culturally important event, of a family member relative or close friend
– attending the funeral of a family member, relative or close friend

> substantive visa application – for example:
– undergoing medical treatment for an existing condition
– obtaining documentation needed to satisfy legal criteria
– resolving custody issues relating to a claimed family unit member
– travelling outside Australia for personal reasons (including having a holiday) because the processing or review of their substantive visa application has been protracted.

The above examples are given as a guide to the types of reasons that could be considered and are not exhaustive. Officers must use their judgment when deciding if they are satisfied that the person’s reasons for wishing to travel are substantial and document the reasons for their decision.”

The validity period of a BVB will depend on what has been requested by the applicant. Policy guidance requires that case officers assess whether the requested period ” … is consistent with the person’s circumstances, in particular that the period of absence from Australia does not exceed the expected remaining processing time for the substantive visa application.”

We have heard of subclass 804 visa applicants being granted BVBs with a return date of 2 years from grant, but this should not be relied upon – each case will be considered on its merits.