How to extend your stay in Australia on a Visitor visa?

Is your Visitor visa expiring, but you would like to stay longer in Australia? In this case, you will have to apply for another further visa of the same kind or another visa. Let us explore how you can go about staying in Australia for a longer period of time.

Visa Expiry and Conditions

Firstly, it is crucial that you are aware of your visitor visa’s expiry date and the conditions that are attached to your visa. You can check this on your original visa grant. Alternatively, you can also check the expiry of your visa and the conditions on the Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). You must be aware of the expiry date and the conditions because it allows you to plan when you should apply for another visa as well as if there are any conditions preventing to you from applying the visa.

Condition 8503

A condition to look out for is the 8503 condition that may be attached on a visitor visa. The 8503 condition prevents the visa holder to be able to apply for another substantive visa other than a protection visa while in Australia. It is known as the No Further Stay condition. However, this condition can be waived. To waive the condition, there must a major change in your circumstances, the change must be beyond your control and it must be compelling and compassionate.

Some examples of change include:

  • Inability to travel due to medical reason
  • Death or serious illness within close family
  • Natural disaster in home country
  • War or civil unrest in home country

Some example of change that is usually not accepted by the Department include:

  • Entering into a de facto relationship or marriage to an Australian citizen or permanent resident.
  • Pregnancy – unless there is medical proof that you cannot travel.

It is important to note that it may take some time for the Department to process your waiver request. While they are deciding on the waiver, you are not given a bridging visa. Therefore, it is important that you leave yourself sufficient time to apply for the waiver before your visa expires.

Apply for a visa to extend your stay

If you want to stay longer in Australia, you will have to apply for another visa. This may be another visitor visa or another substantive visa. These may include temporary visas such as a work visa (Subclass 482) or a student visa (Subclass 500). You may also apply for permanent visas such as partner visa (subclass 820/801) or permanent work visa (subclass 186). The visa you choose will depend on your eligibility and the purpose of your extended stay in Australia.

However, it is important to bear in mind, that some visa takes time to prepare and there may be different stages involved. As such, it is better to plan early and apply before your visa expires.

Once you have applied for another substantive visa, you will be given a bridging visa. The bridging visa will allow you to stay lawfully in Australia while the Department assesses your visa application. It is likely you will be given a bridging visa A (BVA). With a BVA you cannot return to Australia if you travel. It ends when you leave the country. For this reason, if you are required to travel overseas, you must apply for a bridging visa B (BVB) after you have been granted the BVA.

COVID-19 impacts

If you are unable to travel back home due to COVID-19 and you have an 8503-condition attached to your visa, the government has taken a more flexible approach in assessing the waiver. The waiver request will be prioritised according to the visa expiry date.

Alternatively, if you have condition 8531 (must not remain in Australia after stay period ends) or condition 8558 (can’t stay in Australia for more than 12 months in any 18 month period), you are not prevented from making a further visa application. As such, you must apply for another visa before your visa expires to extend your stay in Australia longer.

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