Visa woes stop Pakistan-born Chinese national from reuniting with wife

Hong Kong resident fails to get approval for spouse to join him after a wait of more than three years amid suspicions of racial bias

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 June, 2013, 3:34am

A Hong Kong permanent resident and Chinese national of Pakistani origin has failed to obtain a dependent's visa for his wife after waiting for more than three years.

Mohammad Hussain, 37, who has lived in Hong Kong since 1994, married in 2008.

The following year he applied for a visa for his wife so she could join him in the city.

But after three years and four months, the Immigration Department told him that the woman was not actually his wife and that Hussain, who runs a recycling business in Kwai Hing earning HK$20,000 a month, did not have the financial capacity to support her.

"I am very unhappy. I want my wife to come and live with me in Hong Kong," said the naturalised Chinese national and holder of a Hong Kong SAR passport and a Hong Kong permanent resident's identity card.

"I really want to know why they said she was not my wife," he said. "If she isn't, why am I applying to bring her here?"

Hussain said because they were separated geographically, they could not have children and he could fly to Pakistan only once every two years to see her.

If she had been able to live in Hong Kong, he would have saved HK$25,000 to HK$30,000 in travel costs, he said.

Hussain said they talked on the phone every day.

Ijaz Nadeem, a friend who helped with Hussain's application, said he had heard of many South Asians' applications being rejected or held in limbo.

"If they want to refuse it, refuse it," he said. "Do not drag it on for four years. We consider it discrimination."

Hussain said he would try applying again later this month.

A spokeswoman for the department said each application was processed impartially and determined on its merits.

She said they aimed to process 90 per cent of applications within six weeks, but it could take longer if there was a need to verify the authenticity of documents.

Hussain's application is understood to have been rejected because of a suspicion of fake marriage and debt. The department received 23,364 such applications last year, down from 24,752 in 2011.

It said 18,357 were approved, down from 19,564. But the number of cases refused or withdrawn by applicants giving up hope soared 66 per cent to 4,056.

Allegations of racial discrimination have often been raised in visa and nationality cases involving South Asian minorities.

In one case, Maggie Cheung, a Pakistani orphan raised by a Chinese family, was refused Chinese nationality despite speaking fluent Cantonese and holding a Hong Kong identity card and a Chinese home return permit.

Her application for nationality was finally granted a year after it was filed, after it came under the media spotlight.