In June 2020, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) imposed new national security rules on the people of Hong Kong.

Since that time, according to the U.S., the PRC has taken significant, repeated actions to undermine the rights and freedoms historically enjoyed by Hong Kong residents. For example, the PRC has engaged in allegedly politically motivated arrests, including the arrests of democracy protestors. It has imposed limits on academic freedom and the freedom of the press.

These actions have garnered a response from the United States government. In a White House memorandum, President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. will stop deporting people back to Hong Kong for the next 18 months, except in limited circumstances.

This is meant as an offer of “safe haven” for Hong Kong residents, which furthers U.S. interests in defending democracy and the promotion of human rights.

The president directed the Secretary of Homeland Security to defer removal of any Hong Kong resident currently in the U.S. as of Aug. 5, except for:

  • People who voluntarily return to Hong Kong
  • People who do not reside continuously in the U.S. beginning on Aug. 5
  • People who ineligible to be in the U.S. because of their association with a terrorist organization
  • People who are deportable for security or related grounds, such as espionage, terrorism or participation in genocide
  • People who have been convicted in the U.S. of a felony or two or more misdemeanors
  • People who are subject to extradition
  • People who present a danger to public safety, as determined by the Secretary of Homeland Security
  • People whose presence would probably have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the U.S.

Work, study authorizations to continue

In addition to offering a safe haven for Hong Kong residents who are already in the U.S., President Biden has also asked the Secretary of Homeland Security to do what is necessary to:

  • Authorize employment for those granted safe haven for the next 18 months
  • Allow continuation of any F-1 nonimmigrant visas held by Hong Kong residents who will be remaining in the United states

If you are a Hong Kong resident in the United States and are not among these exceptions, or if you are not sure, talk to Yew Immigration Law Group about what to expect. Alison Yew is a board certified immigration law specialist who has years of experience.