The UK Government’s reaction to the approval of new security laws by the Chinese parliament at the end of last week was to announce that it would be extending visa rights for as many as 300,000 Hong Kong British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders. This would allow them to visit the UK without a visa for an extendable period of 12 months and lead to the possibility of an application for British citizenship in the future. Currently BNO passport holders are allowed to visit the UK for six months without a visa.
The new security laws have been widely condemned internationally, with Australia, Canada, the UK and the US issuing a joint statement to Beijing stating that the proposed laws would undermine Hong Kong’s “one-country, two-systems” autonomy.
“In relation to BNO passport holders, currently they only have the right to come to the UK for six months”, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement. “If China continues down this path and implements this national security legislation, we will change that status. And we will remove that six-month limit and allow those BNO passport holders to come to the UK and to apply to work and study for extendable periods of 12 months and that will itself provide a pathway to future citizenship”.
The announcement received a mixed response, with some welcoming the change and the firm stance taken against Beijing’s political agenda, whilst some were disappointed that a full right of abode was not offered, as many Hong Kong BNO holders had been hoping for.
The Foreign Secretary further emphasized that the visa extension proposal would be dependent on China’s further action in imposing the controversial security laws.
We will continue to monitor the Government’s policies in relation to this particular. If you are a Hong Kong BNO holder wishing to enquire as to your existing visa rights or options to come and reside in the UK, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.
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