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As part of Australia’s evolving skilled migration program, a new scheme was unveiled to attract and retain highly-skilled Hong Kong passport holders. The measures refer to existing Hong Kong visa holders already in Australia, as well as new visa applicants from Hong Kong.
Not many technical details are available at this time, however, the new visa arrangements appear to impact in the following ways:
Hong Kong passport holders who are in Australia on student, recent graduate and skilled worker visas are now able to extend their temporary visas (in the form of new 485 and 482 visa applications, respectively) for another five years, irrespective of the time they have already spent in Australia or other visa time restrictions.
Student visa holders will have to successfully complete their studies in order to apply for the extended 485 visas.
Other visas in the 400 series, subclasses like 417, 407 or 408 visas, or tourist visas do not appear to have been included in the scheme.
At the end of the five years’ extension period, the scheme will involve “paths to permanent residency”, even though it is not yet clear how these permanent residence pathways will be more advantageous than existing points-tested independent skilled migration or employer-sponsored permanent visas.
Future Hong Kong applicants for TSS visas will also be eligible for a five-year visa and a pathway to permanent residency after five years, provided they will meet updated occupational skills lists and Labour Market Testing requirements.
Additionally, the Australian visa application hub in Hong Kong will re-open to support efforts to prioritise applications from Hong Kong through the Global Talent and Business Innovation and Investment Programs. New visa incentives are also being developed to attract media, financial services and consulting companies that want to move their regional headquarters out of Hong Kong, with permanent visa pathways available for their critical Hong Kong based staff, together with other economic and fiscal incentives.
From what precedes, it emerges that there is still a great deal of uncertainty around the actual implementation of the changes and we will update you as soon as new technical details will become available.