On November 1, the government of Australia announced two new permanent residence visa streams for Hong Kong and British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders. These pathways will open on March 5, 2022, and will create new permanent residence pathways for graduates and skilled workers who have been in Australia on extended visas. Hong Kong passport holders in Australia on graduate and skilled workers visas have been able to extend their temporary visa for another five years irrespective of the time they have already spent in Australia. For offshore residents, processing priority will be given to Hong Kong and BNO passport holders applying for temporary and permanent skilled visas ahead of other cohorts. Students are eligible for a five-year graduate visa from the conclusion of their studies, and the Australian government will prioritize Global Talent 858 visa applications received from Hong Kongers with a talent officer focused on facilitating the Hong Kong caseload.
How can Hong Kongers not currently in Australia get permanent residency?
I've heard Australia has launched visa streams for Hong Kongers who are already living in the country. But what can other Hong Kongers do to live in Australia but are not in the country at present?
There are several potential pathways that Hong Kong passport holders can take in order to be eligible for the permanent residence visa. Possibilities include the general skilled migration pathway through state nominated independent skilled pathways (subclass 190, 189, 491). Another is the employer sponsored pathway: subclass 482 on selected skilled occupations; work for 3 years on full-time basis and be eligible for permanent residency pathway subclass 186; or the subclass 494, which is a provisional pathway to PR after 3 years of work in a regional postcode. There is also the business and investment pathway (subclass 188; there are 4 different streams that lead to eligibility for PR after 3 years of holding visa subject to compliance with visa conditions of subclass 188). Everyone's situation is different and would depend on your background. Speak to a migration professional to help you understand and plan your opportunities based on your career background, skills and financial abilities.
The new visa streams have been created to follow through on a commitment made by the Australian government in July 2020 to provide further opportunities to Hong Kong and BNO passport holders who meet residency requirements to remain in Australia. It's not clear whether these visas can be applied to Hong Kongers and BNO passport holders who are usually resident of Australia but are currently overseas. Detailed information on how to apply for a permanent visa under these arrangements will be provided by the Department Home Affairs in due course as these visas can be applied only in March 2022.