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Current Affairs

UK’s visa scheme for Hong Kong residents

Date: 02 February 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

The UK is opening a special visa scheme that will allow Hong Kong residents a chance to migrate and eventually apply for British citizenship.

 

Background

The move comes months after China imposed a sweeping national security law over the former British colony.

 

Details

  • The visas will be issued to those in Hong Kong who hold a British National (Overseas) passport and their immediate dependents, and will offer a fast track to UK citizenship.

  • Applicants who get the visa can live and work in the UK for 5 years, after which they apply for settlement. After twelve months, they can apply for citizenship.

  • To avoid applying for the visa in person, the BN (O) holders would be able to apply through a smartphone app from February 23.

  • There is no minimum salary requirement for those wanting to move but it is necessary to first secure a job in the UK before migrating.

  • The move is considered the UK’s most generous welcoming of foreign workers since the entry of new EU citizens in 2004 — when 10 countries were added to the bloc.

 

Reason for the scheme

  • China has implemented its far-reaching new national security law for Hong Kong, greatly expanding Beijing’s power in the city.

  • Under the law, four widely defined offences can invite life imprisonment as the maximum punishment, followed by lesser penalties.

 

China’s reaction

  • China criticised the UK move. It also said that it would no longer be recognising BN (O) passports.

  • It is still unclear how this could deter Hong Kongers from leaving, since city residents are usually known to use Hong Kong passports while leaving for another country.

  • The BN (O) passport can only be used while arriving in the UK, or in any other country that recognises the document.