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New Australian Visa Policies Applicable to Hong Kong

Edmund Leung

The Prime Minister of Australia, the Honourable Scott Morrison MP, has announced yesterday that new visa policies and measures aimed to attract students and business talents from Hong Kong to Australia, and allow them to stay in Australia, will be offered to “Hong Kong passport holders”. It is noted that the policies were announced against a background of political instability in Hong Kong.


According to the Prime Minister, these new policies are focusing on the improvement of the vibrancy of the Australian economy, and will cover students, skilled labour, business and innovation talents, Hong Kong based businesses and the critical staff of such businesses. This article aims to provide a brief overview of the new policies. It should be noted that policies may be subject to change and there are currently few operational details that are available from the government.



For Student Visa Holders

·         For current and future Hong Kong students who successfully complete their studies in Australia, they will be eligible for a temporary graduate visa of five years after their graduation. They may progress to permanent residency after five years after the temporary graduate visa.

·         For Hong Kong students already graduated and currently on a temporary graduate visa, they will be eligible for an extension of that visa for five years from the date of this announcement (9 July 2020). They may also progress to permanent residency after five years after the extended visa.

·         For Hong Kong students studying in regional locations, they may still progress to permanent residency after three years.


For Temporary Skilled Visa Holders

·         For current temporary skilled visa holders from Hong Kong, similar to current Hong Kong students above, they will be eligible for an extension of that visa for five years from the date of this announcement (9 July 2020). They may also progress to permanent residency after five years after the extended visa.

·         For Hong Kong applicants who apply for temporary skilled visas in the future, they will be eligible for a five-year visa, provided that they fulfil conditions below, and may progress to permanent residency after five years:-

    • Engaged in an       occupation in the occupational skills lists; and

    • Fulfil Labour Market       Testing requirements

  • The applicants may      also choose to qualify through the Global Talent temporary visa scheme.



Attracting Relocation of Businesses and Global Talent and Business Innovation and Investment Programs

The government is looking to attract talented individuals from Hong Kong to migration to Australia through increased efforts in the Global Talent and Business Innovation and Investment Programs. Hong Kong applicants may enjoy prioritisation and an officer specialising in handling Hong Kong cases. The visa application centre in Hong Kong will also reopen after being temporarily closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.


In response to the situation in Hong Kong, the Prime Minister also states that there will be new incentives offered to Hong Kong businesses to consider relocating to Australia. Such may include export-oriented businesses and firms with regional offices in Hong Kong. Migration opportunities may be opened to the critical staff members of such businesses to gain permanent residency in Australia.



The government has stated that the new policies will mainly affect persons already located in Australia. The government revealed that there are approximately 10,000 persons in Australia holding student, temporary graduate and temporary skilled visas who will be eligible under these new policies. There are also 1,250 processing applications and 2,500 persons overseas who will be affected.



Comments by Fei Wang:

1.          The policy has been announced but the regulations must be passed before it will be implemented.

2.         For student visa holders, Hong Kong students (current or future) may apply for 5 years temporary visa – Note: eligible, meaning qualified but the visa holder may still need to apply, not automatically grant this visa. They should act as soon as possible.

3.         Successfully complete study in Australia – what kind of study would be qualified for this study completion requirement? TAFE, or just English course? Either could be eligible to obtain a student visa. No clear instruction or explanation.

4.         For business visa applicants, they may be entitled to priority processing of their application, and a new incentive. – It is not specific what kind incentives would be available. It may still mean that the visa applicant needs to meet the criteria of certain visa approval. It is unclear whether the government may lower the criteria of the visa application.

5.         The specific conditions for obtaining permanent residency after five years have not yet been determined.

6.         The definition of "Hong Kong passport holder" is not yet clear. Hong Kong passports may include two types of passports, one being the Hong Kong SAR passport of China, and the other being the British National (Overseas) passport, referred to as BN(O). It is unclear whether Hong Kong passport holders under the new policies only one or both of them. We predict that both types will be included.

7.         We may expect an abundance of student visa applications, general skill migration visa applications and business visa applications from Hong Kong after the new visas scheme is implemented.



Press Release from the Prime Minister:


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