Just under three million people in Hong Kong are now able to apply to live, study and work in the UK after a new visa route opened.
The government offered a pathway to British citizenship for those holding British National (Overseas) status and their eligible family members last summer.
It followed the imposition of a controversial new security law in Hong Kong by China, which has since been described by the UK as means to “crush dissent” against Beijing.
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As with other visas, after five years in the UK, they will be able to apply for settled status – and after a further 12 months, they will be able to apply for British citizenship.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I am immensely proud that we have brought in this new route for Hong Kong BN(O)s to live, work and make their home in our country.
“In doing so we have honoured our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong, and we have stood up for freedom and autonomy – values both the UK and Hong Kong hold dear.”
The government has previously declared China’s new national security law a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, the deal that saw Hong Kong pass back to China from Britain in 1997.
However, on Friday Beijing said it would no longer recognise the BN(O) passpo