Government extends Hong Kong visa route to young people born after China handover

Politics

The government has extended its visa route from Hong Kong to allow young people born after the handover to China to come to the UK.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said those born after 1997 who are over 18 and with at least one parent holding British National (Overseas) status will be able to get a visa to live, work and study here.

She said: “I’m delighted that thanks to the scheme we introduced, thousands of Hong Kongers have already made the UK their home and integrated into communities across the country.

“The further changes I have announced, which will come into effect this autumn, will continue to deliver on our historic and moral commitment to the people of Hong Kong.”

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The visa route for BN(O)s and their dependents was launched last year after the imposition of a controversial new security law in Hong Kong by China, which has since been described by the UK as means to “crush dissent” against Beijing.

The government said the law, aimed at clamping down on a pro-democracy movement and leading to violent clashes between protesters and the police, was a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration – the deal that saw Hong Kong pass back to China from Britain in 1997.

More on Hong Kong

Just under three million people were eligible for the new route from January 2021, and so far 123,400 have applied, with 113,742 visas granted.

The Home Office said this new extension, which would also allow for their dependents to join them, would let a further 11,700 people to come to the UK if they choose.

As with other visas, after five years they will be able to apply for settled status, and after a further 12 months, they will be able to apply for British citizenship.

Ms Patel added: “I know the British people will continue to welcome more Hong Kongers and help them rebuild their lives free from fear.”

The BNO passport was issued to Hong Kongers when it was a British colony and allows them to visit the country for an extended period, but does not offer them citizenship rights.

After the visa scheme was announced, Beijing said it would no longer recognise the BN(O) passport, but while significant, it was a largely symbolic move that should not stop Hong Kongers from leaving.

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