Virginia, US

Jul 24 2020

New Visa Options Announced for Hong Kong SAR Passport Holders

Australia

At a glance

  • New options for Hong Kong SAR passport holders include the possibility to extend temporary visas in Australia and new measures to target global talent and exporting businesses in Hong Kong SAR.
  • The government has already effectuated some of the policies but has not announced the effective date of others.

The situation

In response to the imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong SAR, the Australian government has announced a range of new visa options for Hong Kong SAR passport holders.

A closer look

Key new programs are discussed below.

  • Initiatives for students and temporary skilled visa holders.
    • The following measures are already in effect:
      • Students from Hong Kong SAR completing eligible tertiary studies in Australia are eligible for a five-year Graduate Skilled visa.
      • Temporary Skilled Shortage (TSS) visa holders from Hong Kong SAR who are currently in Australia are already eligible for an additional five-year stay, in addition to the time that they have already been in Australia.
    • The government has not yet announced the effective date of the below measures:
      • Current Graduate Skilled visa holders from Hong Kong SAR will be given an extension of up to five years.
      • Graduate Skilled and TSS visa holders will have a pathway to permanent residency after five years, although it is not clear at this stage under which visa program they will qualify.
  • Initiatives for highly skilled foreign nationals in Hong Kong SAR. The government has not yet announced the effective date of the below measures:
    • Applicants from Hong Kong SAR for TSS visas will be eligible for a five-year visa, if they have qualifications listed on the relevant skilled occupation list and meet Labour Market Testing requirements with a relevant sponsor, or are sponsored under the Global Talent Employer Scheme.
    • This group will also be eligible for a five-year visa with a pathway to permanent residence, likely through the Employer Nomination Scheme.
    • Applications by Hong Kong SAR passport holders under the Global Talent Independent program and the Business Innovation and Investment visa program will be processed on a priority basis.
    • The government will also provide additional resources for entrepreneurs, especially those in the technology industry.

 

Impact

  • Longer TSS visa validity. TSS visa holders from Hong Kong SAR benefit from the new program in that they are eligible for a five-year visa regardless of their occupation, whereas all other nationals are granted a TSS visa for either two years or four years (depending their occupation).
  • Longer graduate visa validity. Hong Kong SAR passport holders will benefit from a longer, five-year visa validity, as opposed to the validity of the Temporary Graduate (485) visa, which is generally granted for up to 18 months to four years, depending on the eligibility stream under which the student applies. Additionally, four-year Temporary Graduate visas are only available where the student has completed PhD studies in Australia. Under the new arrangement, all Hong Kong SAR passport holders will be eligible for a five-year Temporary Graduate Visa, regardless of whether they have completed a Bachelor’s degree or their PhD.
  • Priority processing available. Eligible Hong Kong SAR passport holders eligible for the Global Talent Independent and Business Innovation and Investment programs will benefit from priority processing, since these applications will be processed faster than those of other nationalities under the same programs. This will be particularly beneficial to applicants under the Business Innovation and Investment program, where the current processing time is over 18 months.
  • Permanent residency pathway unknown. It is not yet known how the permanent residence pathway will function practically for eligible applicants under the new programs; it could be a new eligibility stream for Hong Kong SAR nationals within an existing skilled visa program. The government is expected to publish additional details on this in the months ahead.

 

Background

This program is in line with the forthcoming program in the United Kingdom for holders of British National (Overseas) status (BN(O)) in Hong Kong SAR, which allows such applicants to qualify for settled status after five years and then British citizenship after a further 12 months.

Looking ahead

The government has also announced that it will develop new economic incentives for export-oriented Hong Kong-based businesses to relocate to Australia, which will include permanent residency pathways.

The changes will be implemented through regulatory and policy updates. Fragomen will report on related developments.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the global immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen or send an email to [email protected].

MARN: 0004980