special visa arrangements Hong Kong nationals

On 30 October 2021, legislative changes were made to create special visa pathways for Hong Kong nationals that either held a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport or a British National (Overseas) passport.  

 

Initial Announcement of the special visa pathways for Hong Kong nationals

 

On 09 July 2020, announcements were made that Australia would implement special visa arrangements for people from Hong Kong in light of the political situation in Hong Kong. 

Effective from the date of that announcement, temporary graduate and skilled work visa holders from Hong Kong immediately received an automatic extension to their visa for an additional 5 years from 09 July 2020. 

Although some changes took place, the rest of the changes were never implemented nor introduced into the law until a stunning development occurred on 30 October 2021. 

 

Who is eligible for the Hong Kong special visa pathways? 

 
  • Hong Kong (HK) SAR Passport Holder; or 
  • British National (Overseas) Passport holder
 

Summary of Special Visa Pathways for Hong Kong Nationals 

 

These changes are separated into two stages. In stage 1, certain temporary visas of a HK national would be automatically extended for 5 years allowing them more time to live, study or work in Australia.

Once they have resided in Australia for a specified amount of time, the special visa pathways leads them to permanent visa options in Stage 2. This can either be 4 years residence in metropolitan Australia or can be shortened to 3 years if the person chooses to reside in a designated regional area. 

The permanent visa option is quite straightforward and no longer requires any points test, work experience requirement, occupation etc. These are summarised below. 

 

Stage 1 

These changes take effect from 09 July 2020. 

Visa Type Who does it apply to? What are the changes?
Subclass 482

An eligible passport holder who:  

  • held a valid subclass 482 visa granted before 09 July 2020 and
  • this visa was still in effect on or after 09 July 2020.

Their visa will be automatically extended until 09 July 2025. 

This applies to the secondary visa holders (dependents) even if they are not an eligible passport holder.

Subclass 482 

An eligible passport holder who is granted a subclass 482 visa on or after 09 July 2020.

Their visa will be granted for a period of 5 years regardless of which stream they applied for. 

Subclass 457 An eligible passport holder who held a subclass 457 visa that is in effect on or after 09 July 2020.  Their visa will be automatically extended until 09 July 2025. 
Subclass 485

An eligible passport holder who:  

  • held a valid subclass 485 visa granted before 09 July 2020 and
  • this visa was still in effect on or after 09 July 2020.

Their visa will be automatically extended until 09 July 2025. 

This applies to the secondary visa holders (dependents) even if they are not an eligible passport holder.

Subclass 485

An eligible passport holder who is granted a subclass 485 visa on or after 09 July 2020 and before 03 November 2021.

 

* It is expected that administrative arrangements would be put in place by 03 November 2021 to ensure that al visas for eligible passport holders will automatically be granted for a period of 5 years regardless of which stream they apply for. 

Their visa will be granted for a period of 5 years. 

This applies to the secondary visa holders (dependents) even if they are not an eligible passport holder. 

 

Stage 2 – PR pathways 

These changes take effect from 05 March 2022. 

Visa Type Who does it apply to? What are the requirements to apply for PR?
Subclass 189

Any eligible passport holder:

  • holding a subclass 457 visa, 482 visa or 485 visa as a primary applicant where HK special concessions apply; and 
  • Held the visa for at least 4 years *

* does not apply to 457 visa holder 

  1. Substantially complied with the visa conditions attached to their relevant visa. 
  2. Usually resident in Australia for a continuous period of 4 years immediately before the date of application. 
Subclass 191 

Any eligible passport holder:

  • holding a subclass 457 visa, 482 visa or 485 visa as a primary applicant where HK special concessions apply; and 
  • Held the visa for at least 3 years *

* does not apply to 457 visa holder 

  1. Substantially complied with the visa conditions attached to their relevant visa. 
  2. Usually resident in a designated regional area for a continuous period of 3 years immediately before the date of application.

The above should not be taken as exhaustive legal advice as each person’s circumstances are different and the legal requirements can also apply differently. 

If you hold a HK SAR or British National (Overseas) passport, we recommend that you consult an immigration lawyer for advice and migration planning to ensure that you can utilise the special visa pathways for HK Nationals. It is always a good idea to plan ahead. 

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