Britain has set out details of a new visa that will give Hong Kong people a path to citizenship in the UK, and says applicants will not need to have a British National (Overseas) passport to apply.
London says the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa is being introduced in response to what it says are breaches of the Sino-British Joint Declaration by Beijing, including the imposition of the SAR's new National Security Law.
The central government has rejected what it calls interference in Hong Kong affairs, and dismissed an suggestion that Britain has responsibilities towards its former colony.
The new visa will open for applications at the end of January and allow people with BN(O) status, and their depandants, to live and work in Britain for up to five years. After that time, they'll be allowed to apply for settled status and, a year later, for British citizenship.
The visa will cost £250, about HK$2,500, for five years, or £180 for 30 months, a price Britain's Home Office says is lower than for comparable visas. People will also have to pay a supplement for health services, currently set at £2,000 for five years.
Applicants will have to show that they have enough money to support themselves and their families for six months.
Britain's consul in Hong Kong, Andrew Heyn, said: "The imposition of the National Security Law on Hong Kong marked a clear erosion of the rights and freedoms for the people of this city.
"This new route to the UK is part of our commitment to the people of Hong Kong. The UK is ready to welcome BN(O) citizens and their dependants to the UK."
Grounds for refusal of an application can include serious criminal convictions, though the British consulate said it would not reject applicants who had been convicted over "activities such as non-violent protest or exercising freedom of speech".
Only current residents of Hong Kong can apply, and an SAR passport can be used in applications by those who don't have a BN(O) passport.
No BN(O) passport needed for HKers' new UK visa
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