Some 10,000 Hong Kong passport-holders in Australia will have the opportunity to apply for permanent residency once their visas run out, acting immigration minister Alan Tudge says.
The Morrison government believes there is a greater risk of pro-democracy supporters facing political persecution In Hong Kong following China’s imposition of new national security laws which came into effect on July 1.
“That means that many Hong Kong passport holders may be looking for other destinations to go to, and hence why we have put forward our additional visa options for them,” Mr Tudge told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.
That includes offering the opportunity of permanent residency to people from Hong Kong who are already in Australia – mainly students and skilled visa holders.
But Mr Tudge could not guarantee these people would be successful in their application.
“You would still have to apply for it. You still have to pass the character test, the national security test and the like,” Mr Tudge said.
“So it’s not automatic. But it’s certainly an easier pathway to permanent residency. And of course, once you’re a permanent resident, there’s then a pathway to citizenship there.”
If there is a serious security issue or character concern of an applicant, they would be sent back to Hong Kong.
The government is also in the process of offering particular visas for people to come to Australia.
“We’ve also signalled that we want to get some of the businesses who want to move locations to come to Australia as a great destination for them to set up shop,” he said.
“If people are genuinely persecuted and they can prove that case, then they can apply for one of our humanitarian visas in any case.”