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Section 48 Bar Waiver for Skilled Visa Applicants

If your previous application was refused, or your visa was cancelled, and you are currently holding a bridging visa, Section 48 of the Migration Act prevents you from repeatedly applying for most visas unless you travel offshore and lodge a visa application from overseas. This is known as the ‘Section 48 bar’ and can inhibit you from remaining in Australia legally if it applies.

Section 48 bar lifted from 13 November 2021

In order to facilitate applications in Australia by applicants who are prevented from leaving the country due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, provided that the applicants meet all other requirements for making an application, an exemption has been introduced by the Immigration Department applicable to these applicants.

From 13 November 2021, a ‘Section 48 bar’ waiver became available for skilled visa applicants for 3 subclasses:

  1. 190 visa- Skilled Nominated visa;

  2. 491 visa- Skilled Work Regional (Provisional) visa; and

  3. 494 visa- Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) visa.

There will be no obligation on the applicants to show that COVID-19 has affected their travel options in any way when utilising this ‘Section 48 bar’ waiver.

What does this mean for you in practice?

Under the application of the ‘Section 48 bar’ waiver, to be able to apply for the 190, 491 or 494 visas, you may hold a substantive visa or a Bridging Visa A, B or C. Unfortunately, if you are holding a Bridging Visa E, you will not be benefited from the ‘Section 48 bar’ waiver.

For example, if your previous substantive visa has been cancelled, and you lodge another visa application for a 190, 491 or 494 visa while you have no visa status in Australia, you will most likely receive a grant of a Bridging Visa C for lodging a visa application while not holding any substantive visa.

Before the ‘Section 48 bar’ waiver was introduced, your 190, 491 or 494 visa would have been refused as you did not hold a substantive visa at the time of lodgement, meaning the visa application was invalid. Under the new ‘Section 48 bar’ waiver, you will be allowed to lodge a 190, 491 or 494 visa application while holding a Bridging Visa C, meaning your visa application will be valid. However, please keep in mind that you must still meet all other visa requirements to be granted a visa.