Changes to visa schemes for Hong Kong citizens

By Kristopher Kunasingam and Jordon Lee

As part of its response to China's new security law for Hong Kong, Australia is now offering permanent residency pathways to Hong Kong citizens. Based on the joint announcement by Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge, these changes will focus on students, graduates and skilled workers from Hong Kong who want to live, work and study in Australia.

We have summarised the changes here:

If you are a...Existing schemeNew changes for Hong Kong nationals
current or future studentDepending on your field of study, you are eligible for a two-to-four-year Temporary Graduate visa after you complete your Australian studies. You will be eligible for a five-year graduate visa once you complete your studies in Australia, with a pathway to permanent residency (PR) after five years.
current or future student studying in a regional areaThere are pathways to PR after three years, for example, through the Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa.You continue to have access to PR after three years.
current Temporary Graduate visa holderYour visa is valid for 18 months to four years.From 10 July 2020 to 10 July 2025, you can extend the visa for five years, with a pathway to PR after five years.
current 457 or 482 visa holder (Temporary Work (Skilled) visa and Temporary Skill Shortage visa)Your visa is generally valid for two to four years. If you work in an eligible occupation (Medium and Long-term list) or are subject to grandfathering provisions for the 457 visa, you will have access to PR after two or three years. If you do not work in an eligible occupation, you are generally able to renew your visa two years at a time. You can extend your visa for five years starting 10 July 2020 and ending 10 July 2025, with a pathway to PR after five year, regardless of whether the occupation falls under the Medium and Long-term or Short-term list.
future 482 visa applicant (Temporary Skill Shortage visa)In most circumstances, your visa will be granted for two or four years.Your temporary skilled visa will be granted for five years.
You must work in an eligible occupation and meet other existing criteria currently in force for the 482 visa scheme. The Labour Market Testing requirements apply regardless of the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and Hong Kong.
Alternatively, you may qualify for a five year visa through the Global Talent temporary visa scheme, which is for exceptional talent where the sponsoring employer pays above the Fair Work High Income Threshold ( currently set at $153,600 for financial year 2020-2021)
Future temporary skilled visa holders will also have a pathway to PR after five years.
current or future applicant under the Business Innovation and Investment schemeThe standard average processing time applies.Your application will be prioritised. As there are dedicated officers handling applications from Hong Kong, we expect processing timeframes to be shortened.

Pathways to PR are not 'automatic' for Hong Kong citizens. Among other requirements, there will be character and security assessment in the application processes.

We expect more details to be released by the Government, and will continue bringing updates to you here as they become available.

Contact us to find out more. Cantonese speaker? We speak the language as well.


Kristopher Kunasingam

Kristopher leads the firm's migration practice. He specialises in employment-related migration to Australia.

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