Young Hongkongers looking to move permanently to the UK can benefit from an extension of the British National (Overseas) visa scheme to those born in and after 1997.
Launched a year ago, the scheme is a route to citizenship for BNO passport holders and their family introduced after the passing of a national security law in Hong Kong, which critics say curtails freedom of expression.
However, under current rules, adult children of a BNO holder cannot access the route if their parent does not wish to apply and move to the UK.
Despite rejecting such an extension just last December, the UK government U-turned on its decision on Thursday.
UK immigration minister Kevin Foster said in a statement: “It is right and important to address this so the government has made the decision to enable individuals aged 18 or over who were born on or after July 1, 1997 and who have at least one BN(O) parent to apply to the route independently of their BN(O) parent.”
The changes are expected to come into force in October.
These people will be able to be joined in the UK by their partner and children under the age of 18. After five years in the UK, they will be able to apply for settlement, followed by citizenship after a further 12 months.
Many Hongkongers who were at the heart of protests in 2019 and 2020 were born after July 1, 1997, the date Hong Kong was handed over to Chinese rule.
The UK received 103,900 applications for the scheme last year, with 97,057 approved.