Expat Life

The road to residency part 5: bridging visa

Last April, I wrote that I would soon be applying for a de facto partner visa subclass 820. That went through without a hitch and Immigration issued me a bridging visa.

A bridging visa is a temporary visa. It bridges the gap between the expiration of my previous visa and the time it takes to approve the visa I’m currently applying for. Despite all the planning, work, and expenses, Immigration can reject a visa application. The assumption is that they won’t because a bridging visa grants important benefits.
First, the bridging visa allows me to stay in Australia indefinitely. Unlike a tourist visa or a working visa, there’s no expiration date on it.
Second, the bridging visa allows me to enrol in Medicare. In the US, Medicare is a national social insurance program that guarantees access to health insurance for Americans aged 65 and older, younger people with disabilities, and a few other folks as well. In Australia, Medicare is a publicly funded universal health care scheme. It was easy to enrol. I printed out the form from the Department of Human Services website, completed it, gathered other necessary documents, and took all down to my local Medicare office. I took a ticket, waited about half-hour, and submitted my paperwork. In about a week, the card arrived in the post.
The third thing that a bridging visa allows me to do is work in Australia. After enrolling in Medicare, the next thing I did was apply for a tax file number. Much like a Social Security number, a tax file number is a unique nine-digit number issued to to individuals and organisations to help the Australian government administer tax. You can apply online and it’s easy. You don’t have to provide much information because the Australian Taxation Office will check the status of your residency. In about a week, I had received my TFN in the post.
My de facto visa application is still being processed and will take months, but I have health care and a job in Australia. That’s a lot to be happy about.



  • Leana

    I wasn’t aware that you can apply for Medicare with a bridging visa! I wonder if I would be able to…

    It’s a long drawn out process but it sounds like you’re well on your way:)

    • Cosette Paneque

      Leana, check the conditions of your bridging visa, but I think that, yes, you can get Medicare on any kind of bridging visa.

  • Cristin

    Great news! I know how much work that represents, so fantastic that you’ve finally gotten the Medicare and TFN. I have to say that I’ve found most of the government agencies here to be amazingly efficient – I was surprised how easy both of those were to apply for and how quickly they turned them around.

    • Cosette Paneque

      Yes, I was pleasantly surprised to get them both so quickly. Getting my drivers license was pretty easy too.

  • Julie

    Congratulations! It’s nice to feel a bit more established, isn’t it? Can’t wait to hear about the job search!

    • Cosette Paneque

      It does feel a little more secure 🙂

  • Amelie Milet

    Australia sounds like it has its shit together when it comes to its government agencies and bureaucracy. I’ve been following your journey to residency and while it does sounds a little confusing, for the most part you seem to have had smooth sailing all around. I don’t think the USA even is this efficient for applying for green cards and citizenship. Also congrats on the job!

    • Cosette Paneque

      Yeah, it’s all time-consuming, but it runs fairly smoothly here.