The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee yesterday (7) reported that Hong Kong young people aged between 18 and 24 are not able to benefit from the current scheme allowing British National (Overseas) (BNO) status holders to apply to move to the UK, but this group is quite affected by the Hong Kong National Security Act, and urged the government to amend the legislation to allow this group of BNO holders targeted by the regime to apply for visas to come to the UK as adults. The Home Affairs Committee welcomes the fact that the British authorities have been granting visas to the adult children of BNO holders since the beginning of the British rule, and have improved the process of granting visas to shorten the time taken.
The Home Affairs Committee welcomes the fact that the British authorities have allowed BNO holders and their immediate family members to apply for employment or study in the UK since the end of January this year, and subsequently apply for naturalization. Many young people in this group have participated in anti-revision demonstrations and are likely to be prosecuted by the Hong Kong government under the National Security Law, or are particularly vulnerable to becoming political targets, requesting the authorities to expand the scheme so that these young Hong Kong people can independently apply for visas to the UK as long as they can prove that their parents have BNO status to plug the loophole.
The committee also recommended that the authorities further improve the program, including the establishment of an expert panel to deal with the complexities of BNO visa applications, to ensure that no applicant will be denied a visa because he or she has been convicted of an act that does not violate British law, such as exercising freedom of expression or participating in a peaceful demonstration; waiving some visa fees; improving official data on the situation in Hong Kong to improve the processing of asylum applications; and finally, establishing a BNO resettlement team to to assist the integration of Hong Kong people who first arrived in the city.
However, the British Home Office did not respond positively. Its spokesman only said that Hong Kong people who do not meet the eligibility criteria can move to the UK through other means; the spokesman stressed that the UK has a proud record of providing protection to people in need.
In response to the implementation of national security laws in Hong Kong, the UK has allowed BNO passport holders and their immediate family members to apply to go, paving the way for naturalization since the end of January, with 36,000 people applying so far. And British officials have projected that the BNO visa for the first five years of implementation, according to a medium assessment, there will be 320,000 Hong Kong people to move to Britain.