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New Visa Pathways to Permanent Residency in Australia for Hong Kong Nationals

The Australian Government recently announced two new visa streams for Hong Kong and British National (Overseas) (BNO) passport holders that leads to permanent residency in Australia.

From 5 March 2022, two new visa pathways become available to individuals who hold a Hong Kong or BNO passport: subclass 189 – Hong Kong Skilled Independent Stream and subclass 191 – Hong Kong Regional Stream.

The Australian Government made commitments in 2020 to expand the visa options for Hong Kong passport holders in response to the strict laws enacted by China and imposed by Hong Kong that restrict freedom of speech and political protests.[1]

The Hong Kong (Skilled Independent) Stream allows for eligible individuals who have lived in Australia for 4 years to apply for visa subclass 189. The Hong Kong (Regional) Stream allows for individuals who live and work in a regional area of Australia in the pervious 3 years to apply for visa subclass 191. Both visa pathways can then lead to permanent residency. The visa pathways also allow for dependents to be included as secondary applicants.

These new visa pathways are likely to be eligible for 8,800 individuals with temporary skilled, graduate and student visas.[2]

The Australian Government implemented special adjusted visa settings and concessions for Hong Kong passport holders on 9 July 2020 in response to the political situation within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) in the Migration Amendment (Hong Kong Passport Holders) Regulations 2020 Instrument for Subclass 457, 482 and 485 visa holders.

From 31 January 2021 the Hong Kong SAR Government ceased recognising British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders for immigration and identification purposes. The Australian Government has now moved to provide the same concessions and arrangements to holders of BNO passports.

Schedule 1 of this Instrument provides concessions to be applied for BNO passport holders retrospectively from 9 July 2020. Those with relevant visas that have ceased since 9 July 2020 may have the visa re-enlivened to take advantage for these conditions if a new substantive visa has not been granted or the visa was cancelled.

This Instrument also provides the permanent residency pathways for both HKSAR and BNO passport holders.



  • Subclass 189

    Hong Kong (Skilled Independent) Stream
    • Applications must be made on or after 5 March 2022
    • Applicant can be in or outside of Australia
    • Primary Hong Kong applicant must hold a Hong Kong Passport or British National (Overseas) passport
    • Applicant must have been a usual resident in Australia in the 4 years prior to the application
    • Applicant must satisfy Public Interest Criterion 4007 – Health Requirement
  • Subclass 191

    Hong Kong (Regional) Stream
    • Applicant must hold a regional provisional visa and have held that visa for the previous 3 years
    • Primary Hong Kong applicant must hold a Hong Kong Passport or British National (Overseas) passport
    • Various Public Interest Criterion apply

[1] Department of Home Affairs, “Visa Options for Hong Kong – Update” (online article) 1 November 2021 < https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/news-media/archive/article?itemId=758>; Tom Stayner, “Hong Kong nationals in Australia to get new specialized pathways to permanent residency” SBS (online article) 31 October 2021 < https://www.sbs.com.au/news/hong-kong-nationals-in-australia-to-get-new-specialised-pathways-to-permanent-residency/61998e39-5d70-4dce-bc02-45677af1a99a>.

[2] Tom Stayner, “Hong Kong nationals in Australia to get new specialized pathways to permanent residency” SBS (online article) 31 October 2021 < https://www.sbs.com.au/news/hong-kong-nationals-in-australia-to-get-new-specialised-pathways-to-permanent-residency/61998e39-5d70-4dce-bc02-45677af1a99a>.

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The post New Visa Pathways to Permanent Residency in Australia for Hong Kong Nationals appeared first on Australian Migration Agents and Immigration Lawyers Melbourne | VisaEnvoy.

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