The Daily Telegraph

Young Hong Kong citizens must be with family for visa


YOUNG Hongkonger­s born after 1997 will have to prove they are dependent on migrating parents or risk losing out on the Government’s fast-track immigratio­n scheme.

Children of British National (Overseas) (BNO) citizens who are aged between 18 and 23 will only be granted a UK visa if they are still dependent on their parents and the Government decides they have compelling and compassion­ate grounds.

There are concerns that this could leave young people who have been most active in the protests against China vulnerable to the draconian security laws introduced by Beijing.

The new law gives the authoritie­s powers to crack down on dissent with a maximum penalty of life imprisonme­nt for a range of crimes, in effect outlawing public protest.

If young people cannot come with their parents, officials said they could still apply for 1,000 youth mobility places that would allow them into the UK, or come through the new points-based immigratio­n system for skilled workers.

Under the fast-track scheme, up to three million Hong Kongers who have or are eligible for BNO passports will be able to sidestep jobs, skills and income tests that other migrants face from Jan 1 2021 and secure five-year UK visas.

Officials said the arrangemen­ts will prevent families being split up and allow BNOS to come to the UK with their spouses, children under the age of 18 and any adult children they have, as long as they are still a “family unit”.

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said she would not be imposing any cap, skills or minimum income tests or job requiremen­ts but they will not be entitled to claim benefits and will have to pay the health surcharge and visa fees.

They will also be expected to be able to accommodat­e and support themselves for at least six months, demonstrat­e a commitment to learn English and have no criminal record. Officials said that the nature of any protestrel­ated offences would be “factored in” when considerin­g applicatio­ns.

From January, BNOS and their immediate family can apply for 30-month or five-year visas to live, work and study in the UK and can seek British citizenshi­p once they have been in the country for more than five years.

The Government may grant permission for other cases under exceptiona­l circumstan­ces – such as for elderly parents of BNOS who need care.

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, said: “We will not duck our historic responsibi­lities to [Hong Kong] people.”

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