LONDON: Britain’s route to citizenship for almost three million people in Hong Kong will open in January 2021, and applicants will not need a job to come to the country, interior minister Priti Patel said on Wednesday (Jul 22).
“We are planning to open the Hong Kong BN(O) (British National Overseas) Visa for applications from January 2021,” Patel said in a written statement to parliament.
“There will be no skills tests or minimum income requirements, economic needs tests or caps on numbers. I am giving BN(O) citizens the opportunity to acquire full British citizenship.
“They do not need to have a job before coming to the UK – they can look for work once here. They may bring their immediate dependants, including non-BN(O) citizens.”
Britain suspended its extradition treaty with Hong Kong on Monday, despite Chinese warnings that it was making a grave foreign policy error and risked reprisals.
Diplomatic ties between London and Beijing have been frayed by the security law, which Western powers see as an erosion on civil liberties and human rights in the financial hub.
China threatened unspecified counter-measures after Britain relaxed immigration rules for Hong Kongers with British overseas passports, and the potential of citizenship.
Adding to the tensions have been British criticisms about China’s treatment of the Uighur ethnic minority group, and the blocking of telecoms giant Huawei from its 5G networks.
Beijing has accused London of being a puppet to US foreign policy over Huawei, after Washington slapped sanctions on the Chinese firm’s access to US chips vital to its 5G networks.
The United States believes the private firm is a front for the Chinese state, and that the use of its technology could imperil intelligence sharing, charges that the company denies.