UK hands out welcome brochures to arriving Hongkongers

Published (HKT): 2021.04.09 06:00

The United Kingdom published a welcome pamphlet written in traditional Chinese on Thursday, about living in the country as a British National (Overseas) visa holder, including tips on job-seeking, starting a business and education.

The 30-page online booklet by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government — titled “Hong Kong U.K. welcome program — guidance for local authorities” — includes an introduction by prime minister Boris Johnson, saying that he, on behalf of the British people, expressed his warmest welcome to the Hong Kong people emigrating there.

Even though it was conceivable how difficult it was for the whole family to move to another country and start over, he was convinced that Hongkongers would “feel at home” in the U.K.

Based on the “deep and special” relationship with the Hong Kong people, Britain will keep its promises and fulfill its responsibilities to the Hongkongers to provide BN(O) visa holders and their families “unprecedented” treatment, home secretary Priti Patel and communities secretary Robert Jenrick wrote.

London introduced the special five-year BN(O) visa in July last year in response to Beijing’s imposition of the sweeping national security law, which has essentially wiped out dissenting voices that the central authorities once tolerated. Hong Kong has recently seen a rapid increase in emigration as people look to escape Beijing’s heightened political repression in the former British colony.

The lifeboat scheme, which is open to BN(O) holders and their immediate family members, allows an estimated 5 million of the city’s 7.4 million people to legally reside, work and study in the U.K., paving the way for citizenship after six years.

While applicants must prove that they have the financial ability to live independently in the U.K. for at least six months, the British government will work together with local councils to formulate plans to help Hongkongers apply for jobs, start a business and receive an education.

The British government has also announced a 43 million pound package to assist emigrating Hongkongers to settle in the country.

While senior teachers only need to pass an assessment to obtain the Qualified Teacher Qualifications in England, those wishing to start a business in the country are only required to pay 12 pounds (US$16.5) to register their business at the Companies House.

Those families can apply for free child care services for children aged two to four, as long as they meet the income requirement of an annual salary of fewer than 15,400 pounds.

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