Provisions extend to absent non-Chinese
I refer to the letter headlined 'Post-handover status fears' (South China Morning Post, June 2), inquiring about the need to return to Hong Kong before July 1 this year in order to retain right of abode in Hong Kong.
According to the writer, he is a non-Chinese citizen born in Hong Kong and is now studying abroad. He is holding a Hong Kong permanent identity card.
When Hong Kong becomes a Special Administrative Region (SAR) on July 1, the Basic Law will come into force.
Under Article 24(2)(4) of the Basic Law, persons not of Chinese nationality who have entered Hong Kong with valid travel documents, have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years and have taken Hong Kong as their place of permanent residence before or after the establishment of the SAR, shall be permanent residents of, and have the right of abode in, the SAR.
Besides, according to Article 24(2)(5), persons under 21 years of age born in Hong Kong of the aforesaid category of persons before or after the establishment of the SAR shall have the right of abode in the SAR.
Under Article 24(2)(6), persons who, before the establishment of the SAR, had the right of abode in Hong Kong only, shall also have the right of abode in the SAR.
On April 13, the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the Chinese State Council issued a statement on Hong Kong residents' nationality and right of abode in the SAR.
It announced, among other things that: non-Chinese citizens (foreign nationals) who had the right of abode before the establishment of the SAR could continue to have the right of abode if they are settled or have returned to settle in Hong Kong before July 1, 1997; if they return to settle in Hong Kong within 18 months from July 1, 1997; or, if on the date they return to settle in Hong Kong, they have not immediately before that date lived outside Hong Kong for a continuous period of more than 36 months.
From the above, it can be seen that there is no need for your writer to come back to Hong Kong before July 1 this year in order to continue to enjoy the right of abode in Hong Kong after the handover.
P Y CHENG for Director of Immigration