An onshore 820 partner visa has a processing time of around 21 – 28 months at present, according to the most recent figures from the Department of Home Affairs. Given this, it is crucial that you understand your work rights during this lengthy processing period.
Here are some of the questions we’re most commonly asked in relation to work rights:
If I lodge my partner visa whilst outside Australia, can I get a bridging visa to be with my partner?
A bridging visa is only ever associated with an application lodged whilst you are in Australia. A bridging visa is a ‘bridge’ between the visa you currently hold, and a decision being made on the visa you have applied for. If you are outside Australia and you lodge a 309 partner visa, you can only enter Australia on this visa once it is granted. If you want to enter Australia prior to the grant of your offshore 309 partner visa, you would need to meet the requirements of another visa types, such as a visitor visa or an employer-sponsored 482 visa.
Once I lodge my partner visa, does my bridging visa start straight away?
No. An 820 partner visa has an associated Bridging Visa A (BVA). The BVA is issued at the same time that your 820 application is acknowledged by Immigration but it DOES NOT come into effect until your current visa expires. For example, if you hold a 600 visitor visa that expires in seven weeks, your BVA comes into effect (start) in seven weeks and one day. It’s important that you don’t get caught out by this.
Can I work for longer than six months on my 417 working holiday visa, given I have lodged a partner visa?
No, not unless you have obtained a work rights waiver. If you lodge your partner visa and you still have many months left on your 417 or 462 visa, obtaining a waiver allows you to remain with your employer until a decision is made on your partner visa. If your 417 or 462 visa expires a few days or weeks after you lodge your 820 partner visa, your six-month work limitation ‘resets’ on the BVA (that starts on the day after your 417 or 462 visa ends). If this is the case, then once this re-set happens, you can work for the same employer you were with previously.
However, as most 820 partner visas are taking around two years to process, it is wise to apply for a work rights waiver anyway. If you’re working with a Registered Migration Agent, they can help you to apply for this waiver.
Which brings us to our next question…
What is a work rights waiver?
If you want to lift the work restrictions on your current visa, you need to apply for a work rights waiver. This is done by lodging the appropriate form to the Department of Home Affairs. You can only apply for a work rights waiver once you have lodged another visa. It can take two to three weeks for a work rights waiver to be approved, so make sure you leave enough time. It is important that you continue to meet the conditions of your current visa until a waiver is approved. This might mean that you need to temporarily stop working until this approval comes through. Don’t risk future visas by failing to adhere to the rules around work waivers.
If I have lodged a partner visa whilst on my student visa, when can I start working full time?
You must continue to meet the conditions of your student visa whilst it is in effect. Once your student visa expires, you will be on the BVA associated with your lodged partner visa and you can work full time. If you stop attending your classes, you could be subject to cancellation of your student visa. If you visa is cancelled whilst your 820 partner visa is processing, you will go onto a Bridging Visa E (BVE).
I am on a 482 employer-sponsored visa and have lodged an 820 partner visa. Can I leave my sponsor and work for someone else?
No. You must remain on your employer-sponsored visa until it expires. If your 482 visa is cancelled whilst your 820 partner visa is processing, you will go onto a Bridging Visa E (BVE). You cannot leave Australia on a BVE and this visa does not have work rights. You can make an application to waive this by showing the financial hardship you will suffer by not being able to work. Also, once you are on a BVE, your citizenship clock resets. This means that any time spent in Australia prior to your BVE does not count towards the four years you need to show, of continually living in Australia.
If I am on a visitor visa and lodge a partner visa, can I work?
You must continue to meet the conditions of your visitor visa whilst is in effect. Once your visitor visa expires, you will be on the BVA associated with your lodged partner visa and you can work full time. You can choose your own employer, and you can work full time, part time, casually or on a contract.
We hope you found this article helpful. Another handy tip is that you can enrol in Australia’s Medicare system as soon as your partner visa is lodged. Plenty of people don’t realise this and miss out on free healthcare that they’re entitled to.