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Australian Government announces special visa arrangements for Hong Kong

By July 15, 2020No Comments

On 9 July 2020 the Australian Government announced that it will introduce new measures for students, temporary graduates and skilled workers from Hong Kong who want to live, work and study in Australia (see here).

Specifically, the Prime Minister stated that:

  1. Temporary graduate and skilled workers will be offered an additional 5 years of work rights in Australia on top of the time they’ve already been in Australia, with a pathway to permanent residency at the end of that period
  2. Students will be eligible for a 5 year graduate visa from the conclusion of their studies, with a pathway to permanent residency at the end of that period
  3. Future Hong Kong applicants for temporary skilled visas will be provided with a 5 year visa, based on meeting the requirements of the relevant skilled occupation lists and Labour Market Testing requirements
  4. Existing arrangements will continue to apply for those applicants who study and work in regional areas to help address skills shortages in those areas, with pathways to permanent residency after 3 years

The Prime Minister also announced that the government will develop incentives to attract Hong Kong companies to relocate to Australia, particularly where they have a strong potential for future growth and employment of Australians.

What does this mean for students / temporary graduate visa holders?

Current and future students from Hong Kong will be eligible for a 5 year temporary graduate visa upon the successful conclusion of their studies, with a pathway to permanent residency after 5 years. This is a significantly longer stay period than the usual 2 or 4 year visa options available to other Temporary Graduate visa holders.

Former students already on a temporary graduate visa will also be eligible for a 5 year visa extension until 9 July 2025. This is in addition to the time they’ve already been in Australia, with a pathway to permanent residency at the end of that period.

Students who study at a regional campus will continue to be able to access a pathway to permanent residency after three years.

What does it mean for temporary skilled visa holders / applicants?

Current temporary skilled visa holders (such as Subclass 457 or 482) from Hong Kong will be eligible for an extension of 5 years until 9 July 2025. This is in addition to the time they have already been in Australia, with a pathway to permanent residency at the end of that period.

Future Hong Kong applicants for temporary skilled visas (for example for 482 visas) will also be eligible for a 5 year visa until 9 July 2025, provided their application meets one of the below:

  1. Applicants who have occupations on relevant skills occupation lists and the sponsoring employer meets Labour Market Testing requirements (see here); or
  2. Applicants who qualify through the Global Talent temporary visa scheme (see here), which is for exceptional talent where the sponsoring employer pays above the Fair Work High Income Threshold of $153,600.

The Australian Government has announced that these future temporary skilled visa holders will also have a pathway to permanent residency after 5 years.

How does this impact Global Talent visas?

The Australian Government has announced that it will bolster efforts to attract Hong Kong’s best and brightest through the Global Talent and Business Innovation and Investment Programs, both part of the permanent migration program.

These programs will be prioritised and a dedicated Global Talent officer will focus on facilitating the Hong Kong caseload. This is a fast-tracked visa to permanent residence so could provide an exceptional opportunity to those eligible. To read more about that program, read here.

What does it mean for Hong Kong businesses?

The Australian Government has announced that new incentives will be developed to attract export-oriented Hong Kong based businesses to relocate to Australia. As well as economic incentives, there will be permanent visa pathways available for all critical Hong Kong based staff of the relocated business. The government will particularly target businesses that presently operate their regional headquarters out of Hong Kong and are looking to relocate here.

Are you from Hong Kong and do you want to discuss your options in more detail?

The relevant legislative instruments have not yet been introduced but Hannan Tew will provide further information when it is available. In the meantime, if you wish to discuss your current or future immigration options, feel free to contact us by email at [email protected] or phone +61 3 9016 0484.

This document does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. Please consult an immigration professional for up to date information.
Mihan Hannan

Author Mihan Hannan

Formerly a Senior Associate in one of Australia’s most reputable immigration litigation and review practices, Mihan is solutions focused and well versed in all aspects of Australian immigration law. Mihan also has a subscription addiction, being obsessed with tools to improve the immigration work flow.

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