US Immigration

United States consulate insists Hong Kong people will not be hit by Trump immigration ban

Assurance given after Hong Kong mother discloses warning from US college that overseas students should not leave the country

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 01 February, 2017, 9:06pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 January, 2018, 5:55am

The United States consulate dismissed fears that Hongkongers would be affected by the country’s controversial immigration ban after a US institution issued letters to international students not to leave the US.

The concern came after a local parent revealed that her son, who is studying in a community college in Seattle, received a letter from the school relating to President Donald Trump’s newly issued executive order banning nationals from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

“The college is advising international students not to travel outside the United States, including trips to Canada,” the letter stated.

Kristin Haworth, spokeswoman for the US consulate, told the Post that Hong Kong residents would not be affected by the executive order.

She said that embassies and consulates around the world would process and issue visas to “eligible visa applicants who apply with a passport from an unrestricted country, even if they hold dual nationality from one of the seven restricted countries.”

She added that there was no indication that fewer Hongkongers would apply for US visas.

The worried mother, who was identified as Mrs Chau and declined to name the college which issued the letter, wondered whether her 21-year-old son, a Hong Kong resident who would graduate this summer and planned to apply to study in a US university, would be affected 90 days later.

“Could we be told that there won’t be further actions stopping people from other countries entering the US?” she said.

Chau is also worried because her elder daughter is working in the US and her visa will expire around October.

“Her work visa might not be extended as the [current government] seems to be unwelcoming to foreigners working there,” she said.

While the US consulate gave an assurance that Hongkongers would not be affected, an education consultant with Access Academic Consultancy, who chose to be identified only as Ms Lo, told the Post that fewer local students might choose the US for further studies.

“The order itself won’t have much influence on Hong Kong students, but the [welcoming] atmosphere would not be as good as Australia or Britain,” said Lo, who has not noted additional inquiries from parents regarding the latest US policy.

Hong Kong ranked 21st for the number of international students in the US. Around 8,000 Hong Kong students were in the country in the 2015-16 academic year.

Meanwhile, the League of Social Democrats and other concern groups staged a protest on Wednesday against Trump’s immigration ban. The protesters, who marched to the US consulate in Central, said no one should be discriminated against on the basis of religion or race.

Protester Eni Lestari, chairwoman of the International Migrants Alliance, said she was angry with Trump’s order and worried if her home country Indonesia, which had the world’s largest Muslim population, would one day be affected.