A British MP has shown his support for British National Overseas (BNO) citizens’ to get British citizenship, after about 4,000 Hong Kong citizens signed a petition.
Steve Double, a Conservative MP for St Austell and Newquay in England, on July 10 proposed a motion to shorten the time needed for tier 4 and 5 BNO citizens to naturalize into British Nationals from 10 to five years, giving them permanent citizenship earlier.
He said he had been keeping a close eye on Hong Kong’s situation and the controversial extradition bill proposal was a direct assault on the city’s independent judiciary system. With millions of people joining protests, the situation has become concerning, Double said.
The United Kingdom will have plenty of opportunities to work with China after Brexit but cannot overlook Hong Kong’s deteriorating situation, he said, especially when the Sino-British Joint Declaration is not being upheld.
The matter was brought to the UK’s attention when a group of BNO holders voiced their concerns outside the Foreign Ministry, the Home Office and the Palace of Westminster.
As of now, the naturalization process for BNO citizens requires them to reside in the United Kingdom legally for 10 years and not leave the country for more than 540 days. Double believes that by shortening the required time period, Britain can draw more qualified British citizens to the UK, and help promote a fair and indiscriminate immigration policy.
Recently, a number of individuals started a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for advertisements that would advocate defending the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Within six hours, netizens raised 93,000 pounds (US$116,585.)