We know that the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA)
which entered into force on 20 December 2015 makes a commitment to
reduce labour mobility and improve temporary entry access for the
Chinese into Australia. As an immigration lawyer, one key question
I am now often asked by Chinese clients is: 'Does the
introduction of ChAFTA lead to easier visa options to obtain
Permanent residency in Australia?'
Below are some of the proposed changes brought about from ChAFTA
which aim to facilitate greater mobility (for Chinese entering
Intra-corporate transferees and
independent executives (including executives, managers and
specialists) are allowed guaranteed entry up to 4 years
Contractual service suppliers are
allowed entry up to 4 years, including guaranteed access for up to
a combined total of 1,800 per year in the four occupations: chefs,
Wushu martial artist coaches, traditional Chinese medicine
practitioners and Mandarin language tutors
Installers and servicers are
guaranteed entry for up to 3 months
Business visitors for up to 90 days,
or 6 months for business visitors who are service sellers.
Introduction of working holiday visa
arrangements to facilitate cultural exchange for young Chinese
nationals (total of 5000 spots)
Through MoU the new Investment
Facilitation Arrangements (IFA) allow Chinese owned companies
registered in Australia undertaking large infrastructure
development projects above $150 million to negotiate labour
flexibilities for specific projects.
Liberation of the Foreign Investment
Review Board (FIRB) screening threshold for Chinese investors in
non-sensitive sectors from $252 million to $1,094 million
(sensitive investment sectors include Media, telecommunications and
Removal/reduction of tariffs for both
import and exporting goods to facilitate greater trade and
China's agreement to list on its
'Study Abroad' (JSJ) website (www.jsj.edu.cn)
an additional 77 Australian private higher education institutions
registered on the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses
for Overseas Students (CRICOS)
Whilst the above changes that stem from ChAFTA appear to promote
greater mobility for various visa options such as Investment,
business sponsored and student visas, you may not realise that
there exists Immigration policy and visa barriers, particularly
when it comes to the stage of applying for permanent residency.
Below are only some key immigration issues to consider:
For significant investors, the
Department of Immigration now requires investors to inject 10% of
the $5 million into highly volatile venture capital investments,
and imposed a direct limitation on the balancing investment
component which forbids investment on residential real estate to
pass 10% of the total investment, which has always been a key area
of Chinese investment into Australia.
For commodity trading,
Importers/Exporters/Wholesalers are on the government Consolidated
Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL) and sponsor-able under the 457
work visa program which can be later transitioned to 186 permanent
residency. However, the current 457 program places a major emphasis
on 'genuineness' of the position/role within the business,
that the position cannot be created to secure a visa outcome.
Under the employer sponsored visa,
DIBP policy specifies that it does not favourably consider business
sponsors who are self -sponsoring, ie - directors and family
members or relatives.
The need for a business to be
'non-speculative' in nature for business innovation visas,
which may exclude businesses which manage speculative investments
such as stocks and real estate.
Specific state requirements and
preferred business sectors for business talent and investor
The English requirement for student
visas and subsequent skills assessment and selection criteria for
Independent skilled migration.
Do not confuse the liberation of investment and trade barriers
between Australia and China brought about by ChAFTA for liberation
of visa requirements. Whilst ChAFTA certainly creates increased
opportunities between China and Australia, be sure to seek
professional immigration legal advice before proceeding with hasty
investments and/or business decisions.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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