UK to open citizenship path to Hong Kongers from January

AP — Britain's government announced Wednesday that it will open a new special pathway to obtaining British citizenship for eligible Hong Kongers from January 2021.

In a statement, the Home Office said holders of the British National Overseas passport and their immediate family members can move to the U.K. to work and study. The change to immigration rules was introduced after China imposed a new, sweeping national security law on Hong Kong.

Those eligible can access the British job market at any skill level and without a salary threshold, but will not have access to public funds.

"The U.K. has a strong historic relationship with the people of Hong Kong and we are keeping our promise to them to uphold their freedoms," Home Secretary Priti Patel said.

Those who come to the UK through the new pathway will be able to apply to settle in Britain permanently once they have lived in the U.K. for five years. Then after a further 12 months, they can apply for British citizenship.

Britain handed over Hong Kong, its former colony, to Chinese rule in 1997 under a "One Country, Two Systems" framework that was supposed to guarantee the city a high degree of autonomy and Western-style civil liberties not seen on mainland China.

"Today's announcement shows the U.K. is keeping its word: we will not look the other way on Hong Kong, and we will not duck our historic responsibilities to its people," British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

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