It is estimated that about 8,800 Hong Kongers would be eligible to apply for these programs, and we expect to see more Hong Kongers applying for permanent residency in Australia in 2022.
Choosing between the above-mentioned programs
Applicants may wish to consider the eligibility requirements, permanent residence pathway, benefits and opportunities offered by the destination countries when choosing between the above-mentioned options.
Though none of the above-mentioned programs impose a high financial threshold on applicants, some programs require applicants to demonstrate that they have the financial capacity to support the basic needs of their family to qualify. For example, to obtain a 5-year visa under the BNO visa program, a couple with a minor child is expected to pay £8,590 in healthcare surcharge and to submit evidence that they have sufficient funds to support themselves for six months. In contrast, a successful application under the Canada Open Work Permit Program or Stream A / Stream B Permanent Residence Program is not contingent upon the financial capacity of the applicant, making these programs an attractive option for young graduates with limited financial resources.
Additionally, those looking to maintain their mobility freedom may wish to consider the level of residential ties they must establish in securing permanent residence status in their countries of interest when deciding between the above-mentioned immigration options. For example, to qualify for permanent residence in the UK, BNO visa holders must spend 5 continuous years in the UK (i.e. spending no more than 180 days outside the UK in any 12 month period).
Similarly, the Australian Subclass 191 Program and Subclass 189 Program requires applicants to demonstrate that they have spent respectively a continuous period of 3 years and 4 years in Australia to qualify for permanent residence.
On the other hand, the Canadian government simply requires that applicants under the Stream A / Stream B Permanent Residence Program demonstrate a link to Canada by working for a year in Canada or completing eligible post-secondary programs in Canada to qualify for permanent residence.
For this reason, the time and residence commitment required for securing permanent residence in Canada may be considerably less as compared to the programs offered by the British and Australian governments.
Those interested in moving to Canada via its Open Work Permit Program or Stream A / Stream B Permanent Residence Program should note that these programs are only available for a limited period of time.
The Open Work Permit Program, for example, is set to expire on February 7, 2023, whereas the Stream A / Stream B Permanent Residence Program is only available till August 31, 2026.
In other words, to qualify for these programs, one must secure the required education background and/or work experiences prior to the expiry of these programs.
Finally, applicants may also wish to consider the comparative welfare and benefits offered by their countries of interest when immigrating abroad. Whilst the British government unveiled a £43 million package to help new arrivals from Hong Kong access housing, work, and educational support in the UK, Canada also offers a range of healthcare benefits, education support, and community-based programs, such as on-arrival orientation services and assistance in emergency and at-risk situations, to help to qualify temporary residents to settle in Canada. The situation in Australia, however, is quite different, as new migrants to Australia are subjected to a four-year wait before they may access government benefits starting January 2022.
Together, not all programs are created equal and one must carefully evaluate a range of factors when choosing a suitable immigration pathway. As an international law firm with over 30 years of experience in the practice of business and immigration law, we, Harvey Law Group, understand the lasting impact of immigration decisions on people’s lives and we are here to help.
If you are a Hong Kong resident and you would like further advice or information on the UK BNO visa program, Canada Open Work Permit Program, Canada Stream A / Stream B Permanent Residence Program, or Australia Subclass 191 Program and Subclass 189 Program, please contact our immigration lawyers at [email protected].