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Leave outside the rules information on immigration to the UK for British nationals living abroad following Hong Kong’s announcement of national security legislation (BNO Visa).
What is ‘Leave Outside the Rules’?
Leave outside the rules is for a potential applicant under BNO visa route, who has not yet secured the BNO visa and is not eligible to enter the UK under an existing UK immigration route, and their accompanying dependants (subject to eligibility), may be granted Leave Outside the Rules at the border by the Home Office.
In the first three months of this year, 34,000 Hong Kong residents applied to live in the United Kingdom, compared to 5,354 EU residents seeking any form of visa, according to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.
Hong Kong was restored to China in 1997 on the promise of retaining mainland-exclusive liberties, including freedom of expression and an autonomous judicial system.
The surge in Hong Kong applications follows Britain’s announcement on January 31st 2021, of a new scheme allowing residents to apply for visas and the potential to become British citizens following Beijing’s enforcement of a national security law last year.
What is the BNO visa for residents of Hong Kong?
A visa system allowing Hong Kong residents to visit the UK will launch, with some 300,000 individuals anticipated to apply.
The visa, which is eligible to holders of a British National (Overseas) passport and their immediate dependents, will provide an expedited path to citizenship in the United Kingdom.
However, China’s foreign ministry said that the BNO passport will no longer be recognised as a valid travel document.
The UK introduced the new visa in response to China enacting a new security rule.
After five years, those who apply and obtain the visa will be eligible to apply for settlement and then British citizenship after another 12 months.
Beijing previously warned the UK against interfering in domestic affairs.
Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, said the action recognised the UK’s “deep links of history and affection” with the former British territory.
Since July 2021, the Home Office said that approximately 7,000 persons from Hong Kong have been granted permission to live in the UK.
Can inhabitants of Hong Kong now live in the United Kingdom?
Although there are 2.9 million qualified citizens and an additional projected 2.3 million dependents, the government anticipates that approximately 300,000 people will take up the offer in the first five years.
The 7,000 people who have already arrived were granted government leeway over immigration rules on compassionate grounds.
“I am very proud that we have created this new pathway for Hong Kong BNOs to live, work, and establish a home in our country,” Mr Johnson stated.
“By doing so, we have honoured our deep historical and friendship links with the people of Hong Kong, and we have defended freedom and autonomy, ideals shared by the UK and Hong Kong.”
According to the country’s state-affiliated news website The Paper, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian described the programme as a violation of China’s sovereignty and a severe intervention in Hong Kong and China’s domestic affairs.
“The British ignored the reality that Hong Kong was surrendered to China 24 years ago,” he explained.
Hong Kong residents can exit the city using their personal Hong Kong passports or identification card. They must enter mainland China using their Home Return Permit, which is given by Chinese immigration unless they have a valid foreign passport and ask for a visa to enter as a foreigner.
They may only utilise a BNO upon arrival in the United Kingdom or another nation that recognises the document.
Those who qualify for the new visa may apply online and must schedule an appointment to visit a visa application centre.
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The BNO status was established prior to the UK’s 1997 return of responsibility for Hong Kong to China.
Prior to the repatriation of Hong Kong, the UK and China agreed to implement “one nation, two systems,” which included safeguarding rights such as freedom of assembly, free speech, and freedom of the press.
The 1984 agreement was intended to endure until 2047.
However, the UK has stated that this agreement – dubbed the Joint Declaration – is in jeopardy because the territory enacted a new law in June granting China broad new control over the Hong Kong people.
China has stated that the rule is required to avert the type of protests that occurred during much of 2019 in Hong Kong. However, the law has sparked anxiety in Hong Kong and beyond, with critics claiming that it erodes the territory’s liberties as a semi-autonomous province of China.
You can apply for the BNO visa ‘leave outside the rules’ from within the UK if you are already in the country. You can also apply from within the United Kingdom if you were granted ‘Leave Outside the Rules‘ upon entering the country. Hong Kong or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a residence. Generally, you must reside in Hong Kong or the United Kingdom to be eligible for ‘Leave Outside the Rules.’ You can establish your residency by displaying your Hong Kong identity card.
You and your dependents are permitted to study and work in the UK with Leave outside the Immigration Rules, including self-employment. You do not, however, have access to public monies. However, the conditions under which you are granted Leave Outside the Rules may vary and are at the Home Office’s discretion.