June 5th, 2020
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, stated that UK will extend visa rights for as many as 300,000 Hong Kong British National Overseas (BN(O) passport holders if China continues down the path of imposing repressive security laws. 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 Hong Kong British National Overseas passport holders are allowed to visit the UK for six months without a visa.
The new security laws have been widely condemned internationally. Australia, Canada, the UK and the US are of he opinion 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,” he said. “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, 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 stressed that the offer was dependent on the precise next steps China seeks to take to impose its security laws.