Welcome committee fears poorer Hongkongers risk being left behind

 Today, Krish Kandiah, member of the Hong Kong welcoming committee, expressed his “fear that the people who really need [the British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) visa] scheme won’t be able to afford it. 

His spoke to the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong during their AGM webinar about the experiences, fears and hopes of the Hongkongers who have taken advantage of the UK government’s BN(O) passport scheme. 

The webinar was attended by politicians representing all major parties and from both houses of Parliament, as well as other members of the Hong Kong welcoming committee.

The British National (Overseas) visa scheme was introduced in January 2021 to offer Hongkongers “a choice to come and live, work and study in the UK”, explained Foreign Secretary Dominc Raab MP. The Home Office has already seen 27,000 Hongkongers apply for their visa. 

Krish Kandiah, member of the Hong Kong welcoming committee, said:

Hospitality is the way we fight racism and xenophobiaThe volume of Hongkongers taking up this scheme could eclipse the Windrush migration and many decades later we’re still trying to fix the issues that occurred there. 

We have discussed many issues that Hongkongers face, from obtaining national insurance numbers to bank accounts and estate agents not understanding BN(O) status. Recognition of qualifications is also a big problem, impacting many including teachers. Hongkongers are also worried for their children, for their education and because they are travelling with Chinese passports which expire every 5 years. 

I really fear that the people who really need this scheme won’t be able to afford it.  We don’t believe that BN(O) passport holders will be eligible for Government business startup grants although they do have to pay for the immigration NHS surcharge. This suggests that this provision is for wealthy, middle class people. If you are a young activist, you may not qualify for the BN(O) passport because you may not have 6 months of savings.”

Baroness Bennett, Co-Chair of the APPG on Hong Kong, said:

The focus on economic contributions is interesting. We shouldn’t go around the world and brain drain lots of other countries. Many previous migrants that have come to Britain may have arrived as poor students but their contribution comes throughout their lives. [People are not just valuable] if they arrive with lots of money. Suggestions made today will be discussed by the APPG. 

Please find the full recording here: APPG on Hong Kong Annual General Meeting with Krish Kandiah on behalf of the Hong Kong welcome committee 

Political consultancy

The Whitehouse team are expert political consultants providing public relations and public affairs advice and political analysis to a wide range of clients, not only in the United Kingdom, but also across the member states of the European Union and beyond. For more information, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at chris.whitehouse@whitehousecomms.com.

More about our work for Hong Kong can be found here.