The recent announcement by the Australian government on new visa provisions for Hong Kong passport holders have been confirmed and been enacted into legislation on 21 August 2020, providing Hong Kong passport holders with a clearer picture.
The changes have retrospective effect from 9 July 2020.
Who is affected?
The changes apply to individuals who hold Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China passport and their family members who are included in their visa application.
What are the changes?
The new visa arrangements provide for the following:
Temporary skilled visa holders
Hong Kong passport holders who are primary visa holders of subclass 457 Temporary Work Skilled visas ('457 visas') or subclass 482 Temporary Skilled Shortage visas ('482 visas') that were in effect on or before 9 July 2020, will have their visas extended for 5 years, from 9 July 2020 to 8 July 2025.
The visa period for family members included in the primary holder's 457 or 482 visa applications who have met the secondary criteria for the grant of the visa are also extended regardless of the passport held.
Any subclass 482 visas granted after 9 July 2020 flowing from pending or future applications will also have a 5 year validity period.
Subclass 485 Temporary Graduate visa holders ('485 visas')
Primary visa holders of subclass 485 Temporary Graduate visas that were in effect on 9 July 2020 will have their visas extended for 5 years, from 9 July 2020 to 8 July 2025.
Family members included in the primary holder's 485 visa application will also have their visa period extended. Family members do not have to hold a Hong Kong passport.
Any 485 visas granted to Hong Kong passport holders after 9 July 2020 will have a 5 year validity period.
Pathway to permanent residency at the end of the 5 year period
The Australian government has announced that individuals who receive the 5 year visa extension or who are granted a 5 year visa in future will be eligible for permanent residency at the end of the 5 year period. This is dependent on the individual passing the relevant character, security and health requirements. Some previous announcements have made reference to applicants needing to meet certain skill requirements or referred to meeting the criteria for existing visa categories.
Further details of the requirements for HK nationals to qualify for PR will be announced at a later stage.
Effect on employers and the Skilling Australians Fund (SAF) levy
With the validity period for 482 visas of Hong Kong passport holders being extended to 5 years, it is still unclear whether sponsoring employers will need to pay for a 5 year SAF levy for the 482 nomination application.
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.