Safe Haven for Hong Kong Nationals
In light of the current political climate in Hong Kong, the Australian Government has announced visa extensions for some Hong Kong residents.
What do the changes mean?
Hong Kong residents who currently hold a Student Visa, Temporary Skill Shortage Visa or Temporary Graduate Visa are provided with the opportunity to apply for a 5-year extension, irrespective of the time already spent in Australia.
In the future, eligible students will then be able to apply for Australian permanent residency. Temporary skilled visa holders will also be able to apply for Australian permanent residency if they meet additional requirements.
The extensions are expected to impact over 12,000 current visa holders.
What if I don’t have a visa yet?
The changes will also impact future applicants from Hong Kong applying for a Student Visa, Temporary Skill Shortage Visa or Temporary Graduate Visa. Whilst application criteria for these visas will not change, Hong Kong applicants will be permitted to stay in Australia for an increased period of 5 years, with a pathway to permanent residency available afterwards.
Further. priority will be given to applicants from Hong Kong under the Global Talent Independent program, which offers visas for highly skilled individuals who meet a certain set of criteria.
The Australian Government has also indicated that priority will be given to Hong Kong residents who apply for a Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) visa, in order to provide economic incentive for businesses and investors to relocate from Hong Kong. However, more information is expected to be released in this respect in the coming weeks.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has also reiterated that the humanitarian and refugee visa programs will remain open to any Hong Kong nationals who fear for their safety but may not be eligible for a student visa or skilled work visa. Though Hong Kong residents will not necessarily be given priority in this humanitarian program, this avenue remains open to those who could fear political persecution as a result of the recently introduced national security law.
How can we help?
If you are a Hong Kong national looking for assistance or more information regarding your options, please contact our experienced team of immigration lawyers here at Ramsden Lawyers, and we would be pleased to help guide you through the process.