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Hong Kong

Volume 177: debated on Monday 23 July 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has any proposals to give additional assurances to the spouses of British citizens resident in Hong Kong about their right of entry to the United Kingdom.

All spouses of British citizens have the assurance that under the immigration rules they would be entitled to settle in the United Kingdom with that British citizen provided that:

  • (i) the primary purpose of the marriage was not to obtain admission to the United Kingdom;
  • (ii) the parties to the marriage have met and intend to live permanently together; and
  • (iii) the parties can maintain and accommodate themselves adequately without recourse to public funds.
  • In view of the concern felt by British citizens in the particular circumstances of Hong Kong about the position of their spouses if they died, we have given an assurance that the widow or widower of a British citizen resident in Hong Kong at the time of his death will be allowed to settle in the United Kingdom at any time, either before or after 1997, as if coming here as the spouse of a British citizen. To benefit from this assurance the widow or widower must still be resident in Hong Kong and not have remarried. In addition, we have decided that this assurance—which originally excluded those who were nationals of a third country—should now be available irrespective of the widow or widower's nationality.We are in addition making arrangements whereby the spouse of a British citizen resident in Hong Kong may approach the Hong Kong immigration department with evidence of the marriage. The details will be noted in a register of non-British citizen spouses of British citizens and the spouse will be given a formal letter issued on my right hon. and learned Friend's behalf confirming that the holder is married to a British citizen. The letter will explain that the spouse is eligible to settle in the United Kingdom providing that the immigration rules requirements are met. It will also include an assurance that a later application for entry clearance will be given priority treatment in view of the information which has already been noted. We are still finalising the details of this, but we hope it will be possible to start providing this service very soon.I believe that the assurances we have given, and the new arrangements for recording and confirming spouse's details, should remove any fears which British citizens in Hong Kong may have had about their spouses' position and they need feel no reason to leave Hong Kong simply to secure their spouses' immigration status.