The Australian Government aims to attract "exceptionally talented people" and businesses from Hong Kong to relocate to our shores, along with extended permanent residency pathways for current visa holders and future applicants.
An emphasis will be placed on bringing export-oriented businesses to Australia, including visa packages for critical staff to come to Australia.
Additionally, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will be speaking with National Cabinet tomorrow about how to prioritise the existing global talent program in Hong Kong.
Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs, Alan Tudge, said the scheme targeted individuals who were "real job-multiplying people who create businesses, who are entrepreneurs, who have that tech talent that the world is looking for".
The PM told a press conference this afternoon that China's national security law represented a "fundamental change of circumstances", prompting the government to withdraw its extradition agreement with Hong Kong.
The PM said Australia's immigration program provided particular opportunities for Hong Kong citizens as well as around 10,000 Hong Kongers who were currently in Australia on student or temporary work visas.
"We've agreed to adjust the policy settings to ensure that for skilled and graduate visa holders, we'll be extending visas by five years from today with a pathway to permanent residency at the end of those five years," he said.
"That means if you're a current or future student, you will be able to stay for a total of five years once you've graduated with a pathway to permanent residency at the end of that period."
Temporary graduate or school visa holders will also have their visas extended by an additional five years from today.
"We will also provide a five year visa with a pathway to permanent residency for future Hong Kong applicants for temporary skilled visas, subject to meeting an updated skills list and appropriate labour market testing," the PM said. That list is however expected to significantly reduced.
Given the gravity of making migration decisions and the time the visa applications take, the Prime Minister does not expect a sudden surge in arrivals. He noted the decline in applications due to COVID-19 meant there were "ample" spots available under existing quotas.
There is also already a system in place that allows a three-year pathway to permanent residency if Hong Kong applicants study or work in regional areas.
Minister Tudge highlighted Hong Kong had "immense global talent and great businesses".
"We want to attract more of them to Australia, because that will generate more wealth and more jobs for Australians," he said.
"We already do very well in terms of attracting people from Hong Kong, but today, we're outlining some further opportunities for skilled people, for entrepreneurs, for significant investors, and for businesses to come to our country.
"Of course, there will need to be labour market testing as well from the sponsoring employer to prove that they are unable to find an Australian to do the job," Tudge said.
Tudge also elaborated further on the global talent temporary visa scheme, targeting "exceptionally talented people, particularly in the IT field" on a temporary basis if the employer is willing to pay above the high-income threshhold.
"These future temporary skilled visa holders will also have a pathway to permanent residency after five years," he said.
"In relation to what I call the 'super talent' of which there is many in Hong Kong, we started the global talent scheme visa not that long ago with the idea of providing a permanent residency visa for the absolute super global talent," he said.
"We certainly know that there is some of that talent in Hong Kong, and we will be continuing with our program there but we'll be prioritising applicants from Hong Kong for that scheme and providing some additional resources there as well."
Minister Tudge said new incentives would be created to bring export-oriented businesses to the country as well.
"We know that there are over 1000 international businesses who have their regional headquarters presently in Hong Kong, and we also kow that many have already signalled that they're looking to relocate elsewhere in the world," he said.
"This includes medium businesses, financial services businesses large consulting businesses, which have already signalled they're looking elsewhere, and we want them to look to Australia.
PM Morrison noted most of the changes would impact people who were already in Australia, although there were around 3,500 existing visa holders from Hong Kong who were currently outside of Australia and would be able to return under normal arrangements.
Minister Tudge mentioned there were normally 4,000 visa applications from Hong Kong citizens every year, of whom around 3,000 are students and 1,000 are in the temporary skilled categories.
Updated at 2:23pm AEST on 9 July 2020.
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