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Q&A for Hong Kong residents migrating to Australia

The Australian Government has introduced special visa arrangements for Hong Kong residents migrating to Australia – to help you with understanding your options, here are a few frequently asked questions and answers!

1. Are there any changes to the “Working Holiday Visa” and “Student Guardian Visa” for Hong Kong passport holders?

There have been no announced changes to the Working Holiday Visa or Student Guardian Visa for Hong Kong passport holders.

If you are a Hong Kong passport holder in Australia on a Working Holiday Visa and wish to further your education, then you may consider undertaking tertiary studies in Australia.  Upon completion of eligible tertiary studies, you may then become eligible to apply for a Temporary Graduate Visa of up to 5 years and have a pathway to permanent residency.

Alternatively, an Australian business may sponsor you for a Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS Visa) if you meet the eligibility requirements.  

2. What are the new arrangements for Hong Kong residents who either hold, or want to apply for, a Temporary Graduate Visa?

The announcement states that Hong Kong residents may be eligible for a Temporary Graduate Visa of up to 5 years.

To be eligible, you must be a Hong Kong passport holder who has completed a bachelor degree or higher qualification at an Australian tertiary education institution whilst holding a Student Visa.  The award of your qualification must also be the result of at least 2 academic years’ study.

The Australian Government has also announced that Hong Kong passport holders who satisfy the following criteria will be eligible for a permanent residency pathway:

  • Hong Kong residents who have been on a Temporary Graduate Visa for 5 years; or
  • Hong Kong residents who have been on a Temporary Graduate Visa for 3 years, if they studied at a regional campus and also lived and worked in a regional area.

These changes will be implemented through updates to the current migration regulations and procedural instructions, so please sign up to our mailing list if you want to be notified of further updates once specific eligibility criteria have been released.

3. If a Hong Kong passport holder previously held a Temporary Graduate Visa and has since returned to studying on a Student Visa, will they be eligible to apply for a Temporary Graduate Visa for up to 5 years?

You can only be granted a Temporary Graduate Visa as a primary visa holder once in your lifetime.  

However, and given that the specific eligibility criteria for the new arrangements have not yet been released, please stay tuned for more updates!

4. The Australian international border is currently closed to all visitors. How can Hong Kong residents enter Australia?

As a result of Australia’s current travel restrictions, you can only travel to Australia if you are an Australian citizen, a permanent resident, an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident or are a New Zealand citizen usually resident in Australia.

Travellers who have a compassionate or compelling reason to travel to Australia will need to have an exemption from the Australian Border Force Commissioner.

If you hold a valid Australian visa but you are currently offshore, then you may make a request to the Australian Border Force Commissioner to enter Australia if you meet one of the additional exemptions.

Please note that additional exemptions are currently in place for:

  • Foreign nationals travelling at the invitation of the Australian Government;
  • Critical medical services, including air ambulance and delivery of supplies, that regularly arrive into Australia from international ports;
  • People with critical skills (i.e. medical specialists, engineers, marine pilots and crews) by exemption;
  • Diplomats accredited to Australia and currently resident in Australia, and their immediate family; and
  • Case-by-case exceptions for humanitarian or compassionate reasons.

Please contact us if you need help to determine whether you meet one of the entry exemptions.

5. Can existing Student Visa holders who are currently outside of Australia due to COVID-19 apply for a Temporary Graduate Visa?

Due to Australia’s current border restrictions, many international students are forced to remain overseas and study online.

On 20 July 2020, the Australian Government announced that current Student Visa holders studying online outside of Australia due to COVID-19 will be able to count that study towards the Australian Study Requirement for a Temporary Graduate Visa in the Post-Study Work stream.

Furthermore, graduates who held a Student Visa will be eligible to apply for a Temporary Graduate Visa in the Post-Study Work stream (whilst outside of Australia) if they are unable to return due to COVID-19.  These graduates will also be given additional time to provide English test results where COVID-19 has disrupted access to those services.

These changes will be implemented through updates to current migration regulations and procedural instructions, so please contact us for further updates.

6. What are the salary requirements for the Global Talent Independent Program?

To qualify for the Global Talent Independent Program (GTI Program), you must show that you have the ability to attract a salary at or above the Fair Work High Income Threshold (FWHIT) – this is indexed annually and currently set at AUD153,600.

The GTI Program is designed to attract the best and brightest in their field to live and work permanently in Australia, and also considers recent PhD or Masters graduates in the target sectors.

The target sectors are as follows:

  • AgTech
  • Space and Advanced Manufacturing
  • FinTech
  • Energy and Mining Technology
  • MedTech
  • Cyber Security
  • Quantum Information, Advanced Digital, Data Science and ICT

If you work in one of the targets sectors and you want to migrate to Australia, then please contact us to discuss your eligibility further.

Contact us

Each migrant circumstance is unique, and it is important that you obtain specific advice regarding the visa options that will best suit you.

With so many different options for migrating to Australia, it is important to engage the help of an experienced immigration lawyer to assess your visa eligibility and options to understand which solution would be most suitable for your circumstances.

At Mullins, our Mullins Migration team are committed to assisting you with navigating your options and we encourage you to contact us to discuss the solutions that are available.

Article written by Corina Chen (Senior Associate) and Leena Lee (Solicitor).

"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."