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Factbox: Australia extends visas for Hong Kong residents to 'start new life'

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia on Thursday unveiled changes to student and work visas for Hong Kong citizens who want “to start a new life” in Australia in the wake of Beijing’s new national security law in the Asian financial hub.

FILE PHOTO: Supporters raise blank white paper to avoid slogans banned under the national security law as they support an arrested anti-law protester outside Eastern court in Hong Kong, China July 3, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File Photo To match Special Report HONGKONG-PROTESTS/SECURITY-POLICE

It also suspended its extradition agreement with Hong Kong, saying the new security law had undermined the city’s autonomy.

Around 10,000 Hong Kong citizens and residents are currently in Australia on student visas or temporary work visas, according to government estimates.

Below are the changes proposed to the visa conditions of Hong Kong residents and businesses:

* Australia will extend the duration of graduate visa and temporary skilled work visas of Hong Kong nationals in the country to five years from two; they can apply for permanent residency after five years

* Future students will be able to live in Australia for five years after finishing their studies with a pathway to permanent residency after five years.

* Applicants from Hong Kong will be encouraged to study and work in regional areas to help address skills shortages in those places; people who live and work in regional areas will have a faster route to permanent residency under current rules.

* Australia will reopen the visa application centre in Hong Kong, which was closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 period.

* Australia will consider offering new incentives for international businesses to relocate their regional headquarters from Hong Kong to Australia.

* New visa applications will be screened using existing rules and resources.

* Australia did not announce any plans to issue any visa on humanitarian grounds for Hong Kong residents

Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Michael Perry