About 88,000 Hong Kong residents have applied for visas to settle in the UK

On Tuesday, London said in a report condemning China’s crackdown on dissent in the United Kingdom, the former British colony, that about 88,000 people from Hong Kong had applied to move to the United Kingdom under a new visa that paves the way for citizenship.

The UK opened a new visa process for more than 5 million Hong Kong residents in January in response to a national security law imposed by Beijing in June 2020.

This legislation is used to silence dissent, which London sees as a violation of Beijing’s promise, when it handed over the territory in 1997, to preserve Hong Kong’s independence and freedoms.

By the end of September, 88,000 people had applied for a visa under this program. On behalf of the Government, I welcome them warmly to the United Kingdom,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wrote in a biannual report on Hong Kong.

London had projected approximately 154,000 applications in the first year and 322,000 in five years.

Applicants must hold a British Overseas (BNO) passport, issued to Hong Kong people born before the colony was handed over to China in 1997 and their minor children.

China has condemned Britain’s resettlement offer and announced that it will no longer recognize the BNO’s passport as a legal document.

Relations between Britain and China soured after the crackdown on major pro-democracy protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019 and after accusations of human rights abuses by China in Xinjiang.

The report released on Tuesday concluded that China is “in continued non-compliance with its international obligations” with respect to Hong Kong.

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The document added that the national security law was used against “all dissent, a free press and civil society,” referring to the text imposed by Beijing in Hong Kong last year.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been asked to extend the visa scheme for Hong Kong youth ineligible for a BNO passport because many of the protesters in 2019 were from the younger generation.

A recent survey published by Oxford University’s Migration Monitor showed that a third of Hong Kong residents with BNO passports are considering moving to the UK.

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