Hong Kongers May Be Granted Further Visa Rights Amid Approval of New Security Laws

04 Jun 2020, 21 mins ago

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.

The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.

©Gherson 2020

Angela Lei 

  Angela Lei

  Consultant solicitor