Hundreds of Hong Kongers who served in the British armed forces will be able to apply to settle in the UK, in recognition of their military service in the 20th century.
The government’s new Hong Kong Veterans Settlement route will be open to all servicemen and women who served in the British military prior to 1 July 1997 and their family members, including a partner or spouse and dependant children.
This will put veterans from Hong Kong on an equal footing with other members of the British armed forces who were also stationed in the territory. All those eligible will be able to apply for indefinite leave to enter, allowing them to live and work in the UK without restriction and putting them on a path to full British citizenship.
Applications for settlement are expected to open this autumn.
Immigration Minister Robert Jenrick said:
The immensely valuable contribution that many Hong Kongers made to the UK while serving in the UK armed forces is one that will not be erased from the books of history.
We relied on these veterans to support Hong Kong’s administration and emergency services as well as in the international effort of Operation Granby, which liberated Kuwait from Iraqi forces in 1991. On every occasion, their loyalty was pivotal. It is only right that we recognise their exceptional dedication, service and sacrifice by introducing our new settlement route for Hong Kong veterans.
I wholeheartedly support today’s announcement which allows those who served before 1 July 1997, to settle in the UK and live without restriction. Moreover, it means that the UK can continue to honour their service.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Johnny Mercer said:
I am incredibly grateful for the contribution of veterans from across the world who have served in the UK armed forces, including those from Hong Kong, who played a vital role up until the transition in 1997.
By delivering this settlement route, we rightly provide Hong Kong veterans and their families a path into a new life post-service, here in the UK.
Many residents of Hong Kong served in the British armed forces before the handover to China on 1 July 1997. Their role was to form part of the military garrison in the territory, and support Hong Kong’s administration and emergency services.
The veterans provided important roles to some of the UK’s most impactful international operations too, such as Operation Granby, which contributed to the liberation of Kuwait from Iraqi forces in 1991.