Dominic Raab – Your proposal is neither practical nor financially feasible

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The Foreign Secretary had just announced a proposal on extending ‘leave to stay’ for British National (Overseas) passport holders from 6 months to 12 months if China forced the Hong Kong authorities to enact the National Security Law. It is still a short-term visa and the Government will need to clarify what “extendable with a pathway to the Citizenship” means. It seems the ‘Leave’ allows work and study during the 12 months stay, which will allow BN(O) status holders to live in the country.

The mechanisms on how the ambiguous proposal will work is all subject to the clarification from the Home Office and Foreign Office. Putting the many ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ in the statement aside, the Foreign Office clearly may not have thought the proposal thoroughly before announcement. If you went through the details, you will find the proposal is full of flaws. One of the biggest issues will be the financial burden to the BN(O) holders.

With reference to the dominating speculation that the visa can be extended, BN(O) holders will need to pay £1,033 each time he/she applies or extends his/her visa, and an additional £400 for covering the NHS surcharge. From October onwards, it will be increased to £624. Therefore, the cost for extending their visa will be £1,657 each time.

If the BN(O) holders wanted to convert their passports to British Citizenship (known as ‘Registration’), under the current system, they need to first be granted Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), and stayed in UK for another year before they can Register. ILR application fee is £2,389 and £1,206 for Registration.

Let’s access the speculations BN(O) holders can apply for ILR after 5 years, and they moved to the UK after October 2020, the total cost per applicant will be:

 

Application Fee NHS Surcharges Total
Year 1 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 2 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 3 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 4 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 5 £1,033 £624 £1,657
ILR Application £2,389 £2,389
Registration £1,206 £1,206
Subtotal £8,760 £3,120 £11,880

*The figures above are subject to increase year on year basis under the Home Office guidelines

 

However, in reality, under the current system, only Tier 1, 2 and dependent visa holders are allowed such a route to ILR. For any other visa, it is 10 years before they can apply for ILR. Based on the announcement from the Foreign Secretary, he did not mention any details on reclassifying the visa for BN(O) holders to be on par with those on Tier 1, 2 and dependent visa.

Therefore, if the BN(O) holders requires 10 years residency, the total cost per applicant will be:

Application Fee NHS Surcharges Total
Year 1 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 2 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 3 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 4 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 5 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 6 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 7 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 8 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 9 £1,033 £624 £1,657
Year 10 £1,033 £624 £1,657
ILR Application £2,389 £2,389
Registration £1,206 £1,206
Subtotal £13,925 £6,240 £20,165

*The figures above are subject to increase year on year basis under the Home Office guidelines

 

We should keep in mind most BN(O)s will seek sanctuary as a family. For a family of five, the total costs will be £100,825, equivalent to a 1 or 2 bedroom flat in suburbs or towns in the UK! The average salary in UK is £36,611 on 2019, which means they will effectively earn £2,369 after tax. In other words, the cost per applicant is 70% of the average monthly salary. Moreover, one will still maintain living expenses. Such a high cost is a huge burden to applicants.  The government also did not guarantee whether the pathway mentioned will be subject to change within these 5-10 years, particularly when Brexit is looming.

For such a huge amount of money involved with little guarantee from the government, it sounds a bit like a Pyramid Scheme and an insult to the people who are actually British passport holders by birth. Our government should protect our nationals. Once an individual acquires British nationality as a birth right or choice, we have the duty of care. They should be treated the same as other British Citizens, instead of being treated like second class nationals.

* Larry Ngan is Data Officer for Brent Liberal Democrats, a member of Friends of Hong Kong and a campaigner on Hong Kong affairs.

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5 Comments

  • Have to see the details but this is a govn, as per Blair, of lovely sound-bites so I would not be surprised if there are plenty of snares in the undergrowth, but not sure where all these people are going to stay in our already overcrowded Isle as I can’t see them rushing into Scotland en masse (rather too cold). 3 million enterprising Hong Kongers let loose on a free-trade zone would be an interesting experiment in capitalism that could propagate throughout the UK if it worked.

  • Peter Hirst 5th Jun '20 - 11:47am

    What’s obvious to me is that this government is the worst possible to help Hong Kong in its time of need. How can it alter its attitude to it while maintaining its hostile attitude to the remainder of the world? We need a more welcoming approach to all immigrants who will maintain our standing in the world and future prosperity. I am sure we can cope with millions more people on our islands with the right infrastructure and this will help us survive economically post Brexit.

  • Richard Underhill 5th Jun '20 - 1:04pm

    Frank West 5th Jun ’20 – 9:00am
    Please go back to the circumstances in which a British Conservative government said that ‘Hong Kong is a Ming Vase’ understood to be Chinese but delicate and valuable.
    Mainland China can cut off the HK water supply if they want to.
    Previously Beijing took a long term attitude, but they have got older, which was predictable.

  • Richard Underhill 5th Jun '20 - 1:07pm

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Lee
    We were repeatedly warned, but what, in practice could we do?

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