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UK unveils new special visa for Hong Kong's BNO holders


The UK government has unveiled the conditions under which almost three million Hong Kong residents will be able to start on a path to citizenship.

Hong Kong's British National (Overseas) passport holders and their immediate dependents will have the right to apply for a special UK visa from January, Home Secretary Priti Patel said.

The offer comes after China imposed a sweeping new security law in Hong Kong.

Beijing has previously warned the UK not to meddle in domestic issues.

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in May that all British National (Overseas) - or BNO - passport holders "are Chinese nationals" and the move would "violate international law".

However, Ms Patel said on Wednesday that the offer meant the UK was "keeping our promise" to Hong Kong residents "to uphold their freedoms".

What are the conditions to get the special visa?

BNO holders already have the right to visit the UK visa-free for six months.

However, this will now allow them to apply for two periods of 30 months' leave or five years' leave to remain in the UK, and then eventually become full British citizens.

BNO holders are able to bring immediate dependents, including a spouse who does not have the passport, along with children under the age of 18.

No one born after 1997 is entitled to a BNO passport, and it does not pass down through the generations. However, holders' children who were born in 1997 or later and are older than 18 will be able to apply if they are part of a family unit.

Applicants do not have to have a job before arriving in the UK, and there is no minimum salary attached to the visa. However, the passport holders must be able to support themselves financially and will not qualify for benefits.

They will need to have a tuberculosis (TB) test certificate and no serious convictions, though those convicted only of offences related to the recent demonstrations in Hong Kong will still qualify.

They also need to show a commitment to learn English.


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