Bridging Visa B

If you want to travel outside Australia for any reason while you’re waiting for your Partner Visa to be approved, you’ll have to apply for a Bridging Visa B (subclass 020). When granted, this visa will supersede your Bridging Visa A (with the same work/study rights) and may remain active until your Vasa is approved— but it still doesn’t mean that you can enjoy unlimited travel outside Australia. Your Bridging Visa B comes with a limited travel period based on the dates you requested and the information you provided in your application.

You might also be granted different entry rights with your Bridging Visa B. Some BVBs will allow multiple entries within the specified travel period, meaning you can travel in and out of Australia as much as you want, while others will only permit a single entry, meaning you’ll need to apply for a new Bridging Visa B if you want to leave Australia for a second time, even if it’s within the travel period. If you really need a long travel period or multiple entries on your BVB, you should specify this in your application and provide appropriate evidence to support your request.

WHAT IS A “SUBSTANTIAL REASON” FOR TRAVEL?

To be issued a Bridging Visa B, you must have “substantial reasons for wishing to leave and re-enter Australia”— and it used to be that you really did need a substantial reason, like a dying family member or an important overseas conference. As wait times for the 820/801 Partner Visa have absolutely exploded, though, the general consensus seems to be that visiting family, taking a holiday, celebrating an anniversary, or attending a wedding are ALL appropriate reasons to apply for a Bridging Visa B.
Based on the (admittedly limited) forum wisdom, these visas are rarely refused if you apply correctly and provide a compelling or compassionate reason for wanting to travel. I first applied for a BVB to travel around South America for 3 months after submitting my PhD, and thankfully this was deemed to be a “substantial reason” for travel. My second BVB was only for a 2-week trip to New Zealand with my partner, but I actually got granted a full 12 months with multiple entries. Travel seems to be a totally legitimate reason to get a BVB these days!

WHEN TO APPLY FOR A BVB

One of the main reasons you are required to apply for a BVB prior to travel outside Australia is that Home Affairs needs to check on the status of your Partner Visa application before you leave the country.
You should submit an application for a Bridging Visa B no sooner than 3 months and no less than 2 weeks before your intended travel dates. I applied for my second BVB about 10 days out and it was approved with no issues, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this.