Open Letter 公開信

17-02-2021

英國港僑協會接獲部份港人在英家庭反映困境,作為草根階層,雖日夜工作養育親人, 所得收入仍無法短期內一筆過支付 BN(O) 簽證及相關申請費用,對清寒而勤奮的家庭而言可謂負擔沉重。 本會 去信 內政部 陳情, 建議政府行使酌情權, 按個案審查後放寬有關規定,或可引入分期制度,以紓緩部份家庭的生活壓力。

* 本會建議政府行使酌情權, 按個案審查視確切情況體恤部份清寒及危難家庭, 以不影響社會資源的情況下分期收繳有關費用。

* 本會成立目的在於團結在英港人, 捍衛英國國民(海外)公民等港人權益,向弱勢階層救急扶難, 為慈善及僑務機構應當之義。

HKB has received reports of difficulties from some Hong Kong families in the UK. Some of these are grassroot families who work day and night to support their loved ones, yet their income is insufficient to afford paying the BN(O) visa and associated fees in one go. We sent a letter to the Home Office, suggesting them to exercise discretion to relax regulations after review on a case-by-case basis, such as introducing an instalment system to relieve the pressure of some families.

* HKB recommends the Home Office to exercise discretion to review on a case by case basis (means tested) and show compassion to some families in genuine need, considering BN(O) visa fees and associated costs to be paid in instalments without using any further social resources.

* The purpose of HKB is to unite Hongkongers in the UK, defend the rights and interests of Hongkongers such as British Nationals (Overseas) citizens, and help the disadvantaged in emergencies. This is a duty and what a charity and ex-pat group is righteously expected to achieve.

澄清聲明:鑒於有媒體近日對本會信件之內容存有誤讀,指本會去信英政府,建議為香港草根階層家庭「豁免簽證費」,內容並不準確,可能引致公眾被誤導或曲解,已去信要求更正,以正視聽。

本會建議政府行使酌情權, 按個案嚴格審查以杜絕濫用機制的可能,視確切情況體恤部份清寒及危難家庭, 以不影響社會資源的情況下分期收繳有關費用。

該報導提到的移民顧問,所接觸的客戶多算財力不俗,且條件尚可妥當安排, 有其評論本是無可厚非;然而, 本會提及的個案指涉本已因緊急危難獲內政部批准以「 酌情入境權 (LOTR)」 留英,或被內政部建議除申請庇護外可考慮轉往申請 BNO 簽證的港人家庭。

該建議量及部份求助個案因急難理由,或未合符庇護門檻之 BNO 公民,已經以 LOTR 形式入境之七千名港人當中,因特定家庭狀況(例如緊急危難、日夜工作、兼養年幼仍暫不能應付者)而未能一筆過支付之情形下,由內政部酌情考量設定更彈性的收費方式,例如分期付款,非要求折扣,更遑論「免收費」。

本會從來無意代表全數香港人的價值觀,但作為僑務團體,成立目的在於團結在英港人, 捍衛英國國民(海外)公民等港人權益, 維護港人形象且鼓勵融入英國社區之餘,更重要的是向草根階層救急扶難,向政府及外界反映弱勢社群的聲音,為慈善及僑務機構應當之義。期待外界以同理心看待境況有別的同鄉手足,同舟共濟。

問題釋疑:

Q. 英國國民(海外)簽證旨在吸引有財力的人士移民英國,明碼實價, 不容抵賴。

A. 不正確。英國國民(海外)簽證計劃來自於香港民主運動抗爭者的無私犧牲,英國政府出於捍衛香港民眾自由的莊嚴歷史承諾,推行較庇護門檻稍寬的「救生艇」計劃, 目的是拯救香港市民免受政治迫害, 絕非一般平常的經濟移民計劃。

Q. 港僑會向內政部建議的分期付款計劃對其他人不公平。

A. 不正確。港僑會正正為了消除不公平而建議有關方案。作為「救生艇」計劃,政府或社會團體有必要引入矯正措施,讓生於不幸的清寒家庭同樣擁有尋求保護的權利。政府在此計劃上既不會少收任何費用,且更貼切地讓有迫切需要的家庭紓困,本是計劃的原意初衷。 內政部清楚說明,本簽證計劃是因人道考量為香港度身訂造,「酌情」入境權 (LOTR) 更是顧名思義, 受養人定義亦以體恤理由審批,因此「彈性徵費」 與政策原則一貫,本無不妥。

Q. 分期付款計劃在英國並無先例, 不應破壞規矩。

A. 不正確。政府引入彈性收費方式並不罕見, 早有先例。最新例子有:受到疫情影響, 量及民生福祉,稅務單位已決定暫緩部份稅務徵費, 並容許分期付款。

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

繼本會致函 英國內政部 提出極為溫和的紓困建議之後,三位影子大臣近日亦 致函 房屋、社區及地方政府事務部 直諫:「除非政府減少財政壁壘,否則 英國國民(海外)公民簽證 將僅適用於『富人』」。

 

信件 由 外交部亞洲及太平洋事務 影子國務大臣 Stephen Kinnock; 內政部移民事務 影子國務大臣 Holly Lynch;以及社區和地方政府事務 影子內閣大臣 Steve Reed 領銜。 當中提及不少重要問題及事項,值得政府深思,本會亦將持續跟進。

* 英國國民(海外)簽證計劃來自於香港民主運動抗爭者的無私犧牲,英國政府出於捍衛香港民眾自由的莊嚴歷史承諾,推行較庇護門檻稍寬的「救生艇」計劃, 目的是拯救香港市民免受政治迫害, 絕非一般平常的經濟移民計劃。

Following the HKB’s letter to the UK Home Office with a very mild relief proposal, three shadow ministers also sent a letter to Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said "unless the government reduces financial barriers, the BNO visa route will only be available 'for the rich,' they warn. The letter was signed by Stephen Kinnock, shadow minister for Asia and the Pacific; Holly Lynch, shadow minister for immigration; and Steve Reed, shadow secretary of state for communities and local government. Many critical issues are questioned which are worthy of the government's consideration, HKB will continue to follow up.

* BNO visa scheme comes from the selfless sacrifice of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters. The British government, out of its solemn historical commitment to defend the freedom of Hongkongers, has implemented a "lifeboat" scheme which is less stringent than asylum standard to save BNO citizens and dependents. BNO visa scheme is by no means an usual economic immigration plan.

04-Mar-2021 Update

英國內政部修訂移民入境規則, 可按個案考慮特定貧困狀況(如緊急危難、兼養年幼仍暫不能應付者) 之英國國民 (海外) 簽證持有人及家庭在英豁免「不得申領政府資助」的限制。 對於英國政府回應訴求,基於一貫「救生艇」政策扶恤草根家庭,本會由衷表示支持及感謝。

The UK Home Office changes its immigration rules, lifting the ban of public funds for BN(O) visa holders and families at imminent risk of destitution in the UK on a case-by-case basis. HKB would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the Home Office for responding to our concerns, and consistently supporting grassroots families based on compassionate grounds, which is a principle at the core of the BN(O) visa policy, constituting as a lifeboat scheme.

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