PR Pathways for Hongkongers commencing 5 March 2022

The Department of Home Affairs has introduced two new permanent residence visa streams for Hong Kong and British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders to remain in Australia. The stream includes many concessions for certain visa holders from Hong Kong, such as extended visa extensions, for those who want to live, work, and study, with pathways to permanent residency after four years of residence in Australia. 

THE CATALYST 

In response to Beijing’s National Security Law imposition in June 2020 and its implication on Hong Kong’s judicial independence, human rights and freedoms, Hon Alan Tudge MP, former Minister for Immigration, announced special visa arrangements for Hong Kong passport holders, helping them to remain in Australia. 

He outlined that the visa arrangements will further strengthen the relationship with Hong Kong and provide opportunities for almost 10,000 existing temporary skilled, temporary graduate, and student visa holders, with a further 2,500 outside Australia and 1,250 applications on hand from its commencement in July 2020. 

These changes implemented in July 2020 are outlined below: 

SUBCLASS 485

485 Visa Granted Before Jul 9, 2020

If an eligible applicant is a holder of a Subclass 485 visa before Jul 9, 2020, their visa will remain in effect until Jul 8, 2025. 

485 Visa Granted on or after Jul 9, 2020, and before Nov 3, 2021

  • If an eligible applicant is a holder of a Subclass 485 visaon or after Jul 9, 2020, and before Nov 3, 2021, their visa will be granted for five years, unless the visa granted was a second SC 485. 

Subclass 485 – Granted from Nov 3, 2021

  • If an eligible applicant is a holder of a Subclass 485 visa after Nov 3, 2021, theirSubclass 485 visa will be granted for a period of five years. 

SUBCLASS 482

482 Visa Granted Before Jul 9, 2020

If an eligible applicant is a holder of a Subclass 482 visa before Jul 9, 2020, the visa will remain in effect until Jul 8, 2025. Employers can continue to employ HSK or BNO passport holders without applying for a new nomination. 

482 Visa Granted on or after Jul 9, 2020

If an eligible applicant is a holder of a Subclass 482 visa after Jul 9, 2020, Subclass 485 visas will be granted for a period of five years.

SUBCLASS 457

If an eligible applicant is a holder of a Subclass 457 visa, the visa will remain in effect until Jul 8, 2025. Employers can continue to employ HSK or BNO passport holders without applying for a new nomination. 

The Australian Government has also extended these benefits to BNO Passport Holders after the Hong Kong SAR Government’s decision not to accept BNO passports for immigration and identification purposes. The Australian Government amended Schedule 1 of Migration Amendment (Hong Kong Passport Holders) Regulations 2020 Instrument to provide the same concessions and arrangements to holders of BNO passports, with the changes being applied retrospectively from Jul 9, 2020.

NEW CHANGES EFFECTIVE FROM 5 MARCH 2022

On Nov 1, 2021, The Hon Alex Hawke MP, Minister for Immigration, announced two additional permanent residence visa streams to streamline Hong Kong citizens’ pathway to becoming permanent residents in Australia:

  1. Subclass 189 – Hong Kong Stream; and 
  2. Subclass 191 – Hong Kong (Regional) Stream.

PATHWAY 1 > SUBCLASS 189 – SKILLED INDEPENDENT VISA – HONG KONG STREAM

In addition to the current points tested and New Zealand stream, the Department has introduced a “Hong Kong Stream” for Hong Kong citizens in Australia, residing in Australia for a continuous period of at least four years immediately before applying for permanent residency. 

To be eligible for the stream, primary applicants must:

  • Hold a HKSAR or a BNO passport, and
  • The application must be made by the primary visa holder of a SC 457, 482 or 485 visa covered by the Hong Kong concessions (valid until 8 July 2025 or for five years), and
  • have held that visa for four years (unless transitional SC 457 conditions apply), and
  • have been usually resident in Australia for four years, and
  • both primary and secondary applicants meet PIC 4007.

The Department has also expanded the definition of “members of the family unit” to include children above 23 years of age for permanent residency application, as long as they continue to live with the family. 

PATHWAY 2 > SUBCLASS 191 – PERMANENT RESIDENCE – SKILLED REGIONAL VISA – HONG KONG STREAM

The Subclass 191 visa will be restructured to create two streams for primary applicants:

To be eligible for the new Subclass 191 Hong Kong stream, applicants will need to meet the following core criteria:

  • Hold an HKSAR or a BNO passport;
  • The application must be made by the primary visa holder of a SC 457, 482 or 485 visa covered by the Hong Kong concessions, 
  • Have lived, worked, or studied exclusively in a designated regional area for the three years immediately before applying;
  • has held that visa while meeting the regional requirements for three years (unless sc 457 transitional concessions apply), and
  • have been usually resident in Australia for a continuous period of 3 years immediately before applying

If you believe you may be  eligible for any of the above visa categories or have queries about your options, please give us a call on (03) 7020 6514 .

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