Number of Hong Kong students caught in UK visa delays hits at least 680, but some start receiving documents
Youngsters forced to miss classes and even forgo university places over delays
A number of Hong Kong students waiting for British student visas finally received their documents on Sunday, two days after it was revealed that hundreds were at risk of losing their university places due to unexpected delays, a local lawmaker said.
Ip Kin-yuen, who represents the education sector in Hong Kong’s legislature, on Friday disclosed that at least 220 students had contacted him for help over the visa delays. At 4pm on Sunday he said that number had increased to 680 students.
Ip said some had received calls from Britain’s visa application centre in the city informing them that they could pick up their permits in Causeway Bay from Sunday instead of waiting for mail deliveries.
Several students told him they had received their visas but he said he was not sure of the exact number.
“I hope the application centre can handle other accumulated cases as soon as possible to let students get their visas in the fastest way,” Ip said.
He would continue to liaise with the British consulate on the issue, he added.
The cause of the delays remains unknown. Ip previously said many students had applied in the middle of last month or in late July but had not received visas.
They had already purchased air tickets so were forced to change their flights due to the delays, Ip said.
He added that many had missed classes or would end up doing so.
In one case, a student applied for a priority visa – which takes three to five days to process – on August 1, and intended to fly over to begin classes on August 21.
But the visa was only delivered on Friday, meaning the student had to forgo the university place after missing important early classes.
Another student felt “forced into a corner” after applying for a visa on August 16 but hearing nothing. Classes started without the student, but the university in this case was accommodating and extended its attendance deadline to September 6.
It is the second time in recent years Hongkongers have experienced major delays in the processing of British travel documents.
In 2014, people trying to renew their British passports in Hong Kong faced delays of up to four months.
London had ordered an end to all processing of passport applications overseas and moved operations to Liverpool, creating a backlog of 350,000 applications.