Hong Kongers coming to London on a British National (Overseas) visa are facing discrimination when seeking employment and a place to live.
The BN(O) visa is Britain’s response to the imposition of national security legislation in Hong Kong, which resulted in the loss of political rights and freedoms for millions of people.
Nearly two years after its introduction, City Hall estimates that London has welcomed more than 35,000 new arrivals.
Home Office figures show that 115,000 people have registered or applied for a visa in the UK, with thousands more expected by 2025.
But one visa holder – who has not been named for privacy reasons – told The Standard that some people have faced difficulty when trying to secure a job in London.
“For many Hong Kong people, even if they have professional experience and qualifications, it is not easy for them to get a job here.
“To be honest, there are still some people who would prefer Europeans instead of Hong Kong/Asians when they receive CVs and cover letters.”
She said some arrivals have dealt with staff who are not aware of BN(O) visas when they request help from the NHS, their local council or government organizations such as Jobcentre Plus.
“I’ve got a case of a Hong Kong man who tried to get help from JobCenter Plus, it’s an employee there,” said the visa holder, who also works for a human rights organization.
“They really don’t know about BN(O) visa. Some government bodies, some employees didn’t get enough guidance on how to deal with BN(O) visa issues.
“If someone doesn’t know your background, it’s hard enough for them to understand why we’re here.”
A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said: “Communications have been made across all of our sites to ensure our staff are aware of any specific assistance available to those individuals following the events in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Hong Kong.”
“We continue to work closely with other government departments to ensure the smooth integration of British citizens overseas (BN(O)) who choose to settle in the UK.”
The visa holder also told Manak that he and others in his family are facing problems when it comes to finding accommodation and many have requested a lump sum payment of six months.
She termed the practice a “phenomenon” among estate agents in the capital.
“The landlord requested to sign a two-year fixed contract with us and at first said they could review after a year.
“So we have to pay two six months [payments] And next year they can review our financial position.”
Simon Cheng, who founded the expatriate association Hongkongers in Britain, told The Standard that large sums of money were also being sought in other Hong Kong cases.
“In London we often get cases that ask for help, and they usually require two or three attempts [before finding] A landlord who could give them such deposits for three months or less.
Mr Cheng said requiring BN(O) visa holders to pay a six-month deposit is a “deterrent” and an “unpleasant” message to recent Hong Kong arrivals in London.
“Considering there are Hong Kongers willing to contribute to London and the UK, there should be enough stable income with employment for landlords,” he added.
Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond, where many Hong Kong arrivals settle, said the revelations were “absolutely shocking” as she called for a five-week cap on rental deposits.
The National Residential Landlord Association told Standards that it was “not standard” for potential tenants to book six months in advance “and generally not in favor with landlords”.
But Portia Simang, Renters’ Rights London project co-ordinator, said it is “all too common” for London landlords to demand several months’ rent in advance where tenants can’t guarantee UK access and no history of renting here. Not there.
“This practice is not confined to people coming from Hong Kong on BN(O) visa. It is most unwelcome and looks discriminatory but it is not uncommon in London.
“I know about tenants from different countries; Australia, China and Turkey come to mind, who have had to pay several months’ advance rent to secure a tenancy.”
A spokeswoman for Leveling Up, the Department for Housing and Communities, said: “Landlords should not ask several months in advance, as this is likely to be unaffordable for many tenants and will affect landlords’ ability to find tenants for their property.” can affect.”
The department confirmed that a landlord is permitted to request advance payment of rent up to the total rent of the initial fixed term. Any payment in excess of this amount is a prohibited payment under the Tenant Fees Act 2019.