Available Options For Hong Kong Nationals To Immigrate To The UK
For the past two months, the world has watched the ‘pearl of the East’, officially known as Hong Kong, erupt in violent protest.
This is the second time in recent years unrest has engulfed the territory; in 2014 the Umbrella Movement. For nearly three months, Hong Kong saw a series of sit-ins, rallies, and road-clogging demonstrations.
The cause of the summer 2019 protests is the Hong Kong’s government proposed an extradition bill known as the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019. When Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997, it was done so under the principle of “one country, two systems”. The Basic Law, which is a mini-constitution, sets out the sources of law, the relationship between the Hong Kong SAR and the Central Government, the fundamental rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, and the structure and functions of the branches of local government. It also provides for the amendment and interpretation of the Basic Law. In addition, the Hong Kong Courts have the power to judicially review executive or legislature decisions and declare them invalid if they are inconsistent with the Basic Law.
The Basic Law expires in 2047, and at present, it is unclear how the government system in the territory will operate after this date.
If the Fugitive Offenders and Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Legislation (Amendment) Bill 2019 comes into force, the bill will allow local authorities to detain and extradite people who are wanted in territories that Hong Kong does not have extradition agreements with, including mainland China and Taiwan. Many fear that the Chinese authorities will use these powers to prosecute political dissenters. Already, Hong Kong artists and writers say they are under pressure to censure their work.
Migration from Hong Kong is not new; prior to the 1997 handover, many families left the region and came to countries such as Britain to ensure they would always enjoy democratic freedoms and democracy.
Once again, Hong Kong citizens are examining their options.
Moving to the UK as a Hong Kong citizen
Despite the fact that Hong Kong was a British colony for 150 years, its citizens have no more automatic right to immigrate to the UK than those from New Zealand, Australia, or Canada. However, there are visa routes which can lead to not only entry, but eventually Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship.
Tier 2 General Visa
If you wish to work in the UK, you will need to find an employer who holds a Sponsor Licence from the Home Office to sponsor and apply for a Tier 2 General Visa.
To successfully apply for a Tier 2 (General) Visa, you need to have:
- a valid Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) from an employer with a Tier 2 Sponsor Licence
- an ‘appropriate salary’ for your job
- personal savings of £945 so you can support yourself when you arrive in the UK
- proof you can travel and your travel history over the last five years
Tier 4 Student Visa
A Tier 4 Student Visa allows you to study in the UK. You cannot apply for Settlement under this visa; however, you can switch to a Tier 2 Visa once you have completed your studies.
To qualify, you must:
- Have been offered a place at a UK higher education institution which is a licensed Tier 4 sponsor
- Have a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) number from your UK educational institution
- Be offered a place on an approved course
- Meet minimum financial requirements to live, pay tuition, and cover expenses while in the UK
- Have proof of English language proficiency (there are some exceptions):
- Nationality from an English-speaking country, or
- An accepted English language degree, or
- Successfully passing an accredited English language test
Innovator or Start-Up Visa
The Innovator Visa and Start-Up Visa replace the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa. To qualify, you will need to be endorsed by an official endorsing body and, in the case of the Innovator Visa, have access to £50,000 of investment funds.
All applications will be assessed on the following three merits:
- Innovation – you must have an original business idea and a plan that proves it meets an existing market need or provides a competitive advantage in a particular sector.
- Viability – you need to prove you have or are developing the required experience, skills, knowledge, and commercial acumen to run the business.
- Scalability – there must be evidence of a clear growth strategy and job creation potential.
For high-net-worth migrants, the Investor Visa provides a flexible route into the UK and the possibility of fast-tracked Settlement.
To qualify, you must have:
- At least £2 million of your own money, available for immediate dispersal in the UK, and currently held in a regulated financial institution
- A UK bank account at a regulated bank (if you have not done this, our team can make the necessary bank introductions)
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be able to prove that the £2 million in investment funds belongs to either you or your husband, wife, unmarried, or same-sex partner
Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa
If you have proven exceptional talent or exceptional promise in a particular field such as technology, the arts, STEM occupations, or medicine, you may be eligible for the Tier 1 Exceptional Talent Visa.
To qualify, you must obtain endorsement from one of the following approved bodies: The Royal Society, the British Academy, the Royal Academy of Engineering, Arts Council England, and Tech Nation UK.
If you wish to enquire about immigrating from Hong Kong to the UK, speak to one of our lawyers. We can explain your options clearly and assist you with putting together a successful application for any of the above type of visas.
A Y & J Solicitors are specialists in immigration law based in central London. If you would like more information regarding anything discussed in this article, please contact us at [email protected] or call +44 20 7404 7933.
Disclaimer: No material/information provided on this website should be construed as legal advice. Readers should seek an appropriate professional advice for their immigration matters.