In August 2020, the Australian Government introduced new visa arrangements for certain visa holders from Hong Kong who wanted to live, work and study in Australia. These arrangements (the Hong Kong Regulations) briefly include:
- Temporary graduate and skilled workers (Subclasses 457, 482, 485) are offered an additional five years of work rights in Australia on top of the time they’ve already spent in Australia, with a pathway to permanent residency at the end of that period.
- Students can be granted a five-year graduate visa, with a pathway to permanent residency at the end of that period.
- Hong Kong applicants for temporary skilled visas are provided with a five-year visa, with a pathway to permanent residency after five years.
- Applicants who study and work in regional areas have access to pathways to permanent residency after three years.
On 28 October 2021, the Australian Government amended the ‘Hong Kong Regulations’ to complete the implementation of these visa arrangements to include British National (Overseas) passport holders. Therefore, the changes mirror the above visa concessions made for holders of Hong Kong passports and apply retrospectively from 9 July 2020.
The British National (Overseas) passport, commonly referred to as the BN(O) passport, was granted to persons who were British Overseas Territories citizens by connection with Hong Kong and who were able to register as BN(O)s before 1 July 1997. About 350,000 residents in Hong Kong are BN(O) passport holders.
Hongkongers Pathway to PR
The amended legislation creates pathways to permanent residence for eligible temporary skilled and temporary graduate visa holders from Hong Kong, including:
- access to permanent residency after three years via the Subclass 191 Permanent Residence (Skilled Regional) visa for applicants who have lived, worked and studied in a designated regional area.
- access to permanent residence after four years via a new stream of the Subclass 189 (Skilled – Independent)
The above pathways to permanent residency will become available from 5 March 2022.