Schedule 3: A Guide To Visa Applications For Bridging Visas Holders [Update 2021]

The Schedule 3 Problem

If you make an application when inside Australia, while holding a bridging visa or no Australian visa at all, rather than a substantive visa, you need to check if you have a schedule 3 issue. 

If you hold a substantive visa when you make a further application in Australia for a visa, then there is no schedule 3 issue.

The Department creates a problem for you if you hold a bridging visa when lodging an application when in Australia. The Department really refers applicants to exit after then substantive visa has expired. The Department prefers to reapply for a visa offshore in misty cases. 

This is problematic to applicants that have no compelling reason as why they should be able lodge a further application in Australia rather than from offshore.

The Department’s logic is that if you are a genuine applicant for a new visa, then you should lodge a further application as quickly as possible (before your current visa expires).

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Are You Special?

The wording of Schedule 3 is confusing. This has caused many to fail to understand the issue and address the issue correctly, resulting in visa refusal. 

The problem Schedule 3 creates for bridging visa holders is that you need special submissions to be made (and accepted) by the Department of Home Affairs. 

Simply, you’ll write a letter that demonstrates why your case is something unique. “Special” in terms of having a compelling aspect of your circumstances. You’ll need to persuade a decision maker to waive the schedule 3 requirement. Of course, you’ll need to meet the other standard requirements for the class of visa you are applying for.

Do you need help to prepare the best submission for your visa application? Speak to me today.

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No Waiver

Unless you are successful in meeting the schedule 3 criteria, you will fail an essential element required for the grant of the visa you have applied for.

If you are unable to meet the schedule 3 requirement, you will usually be required to go offshore (outside Australia) and to apply for the visa you desire from overseas. 

However, please note that not all visas allow for a discretion (that your case is special) to be exercised in your favour. In some cases, it will not matter what submissions you make, you’ll be dear in the water because there is no discretion for a decision maker to make any determination that you met schedule 3. Book in a chat with me to see if you can meet a schedule 3.

Remember, Schedule 3 criteria do not apply to visa holders who make applications inside Australia, if they hold a substantive visa – a visa other than a bridging visa.

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What Is A Substantive Visa?

You can take a look at the Migration Act for a nerdy answer, but for the purposes of this post,  you can think of a substantive visa as anything other than a bridging visa.

Nilesh Nandan Immigration Lawyer, Schedule 3


Exceptions: Schedule 3

One notable exception to the schedule 3 problem is a protection visa (visa subclass 866). There is no schedule 3 criteria which applies to this class of visa. 

Faster Refusals

Immigration Case Officers are now quickly refusing visas based solely on a failure to meet Schedule 3 criteria. They are not necessarily looking at other substantive criteria. 

So if you have lodged an application while holding a bridging visa, don’t expect that your case will take a long and others of same class. It could be refused faster. It very possible departmental case officers will quickly refuse your case simply because schedule 3 is not met.

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Harsher Schedule 3 Decisions

Immigration Case Officers are not required to ask you to make submissions for failing to meet Schedule 3 criteria.

They can simply refuse the application without referring to you. You should seek to address the criteria in detailed submissions as quickly as possible after lodgement.

Help With Schedule 3 Problems

Call me to discuss how to respond in your case and book now for a consultation!

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Your Experience?

Please share your comments with me.

I’d love to know more about your experience with applying for this visa subclass!

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Nilesh Nandan is Australia's most sought after immigration lawyer for visa refusals and visa cancellations. Appeal your visa or get help to relodge your Australian visa application or citizenship application.
  • Hi
    My name is baljinder. I have applied 457 visa from India but I have come back to Australia as my traveling visa expired. Now I am in Australia and department asked me to send all required documents and information. But my lawyer they asking me 3000 to pay to work on schedule 3 process . But I can’t pay as I don’t have money. So its my request to you could you please help me to suggest any link or website so i can prepare my case(schedule 3) by myself. Its been 4 years I am in Australia and I have more around 3 years experience and now i have Bridging visaA.

    • These schedule 3 submissions are essential. You could meet all the normal criteria for the grant, but if you are unable to show compelling reasons within the meaning of schedule 3, then your application must be refused. I can go through what might be the strongest arguments for you. No two people will have the exactly same arguments and submissions – these need to be credible and tailored. I expect you will be rejected by the DIBP and will need to make an application to the AAT for a review of your visa refusal decision unless you have credible reasons on the one hand AND you are able to articulate and persuade the decision maker on the other hand.
      Please call me if you need my help. A standard consult fee of $370 applies.

  • Hi, how long generally is the processing time for the Department of Home Affairs to go through your submission regarding Schedule 3?

    • Great question Embla!

      It used to be the case some years ago that immigration case officers picked up partner visa cases and assessed them very quickly against the schedule 3 criteria…. and would offen refuse/decide this issue of schedule 3, within three or 4 months of visa application lodgement.

      However more recently I have not seen this occurring with our own caseload. Many of our partner cases have schedule 3 submissions and these cases are not being opened by case officers until after the 15-20 month mark.

      Please note our experience is at often at odds with published turn-around times on the department of immigration website.

      I’m sure my own expected time period will also change from time to time. It is not a science at all!

      Thanks again for the great question and do let me know your own experience below.

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