More than 1,300 delayed UK visas reach Hong Kong students as backlog all but cleared
British officials say applicants notified that their passport has been dispatched within 48 hours of decision
More than 1,300 delayed UK visas reached Hong Kong students over the last three days as British authorities said they had all but cleared a backlog in applications.
City officials had stepped in to manage a crisis that threatened to cause hundreds of students to lose their place at universities as a result of the processing fiasco that stretched a process normally taking a week into several weeks.
A 24-hour call centre and email address for concerned parents and students were set up as Hongkong Post drafted special measures to expedite the visas that were sent to and from the Philippines, where the glitch originated.
Hongkong Post said that, from Wednesday to midday Friday, 930 recipients had collected their travel documents from the post office while around 400 visas had been posted to applicants’ homes. Another 370 visa packages arrived on Friday ready for pickup.
The government’s Efficiency Unit said it had received 1,538 calls and 653 emails from concerned students between Tuesday and 5.30pm Friday. The figures included repeat calls from students.
In a statement on Thursday night, the UK Home Office said: “Almost all applications which had not been decided within our usual timescales have now been processed, with the exception of a very small number where further consideration is required.”
The statement was disseminated by the British consulate in Hong Kong.
“Where decisions have been made, applicants will normally be notified that their passport has been dispatched within 48 hours of that decision,” it added.
Hong Kong officials were made well aware of the delay. As of Wednesday afternoon, education lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen had received over 1,000 complaints about students intending to enrol in the UK.
In a show of its engagement, the government on Wednesday contacted Cathay Pacific Airways to determine whether seats were available on flights later in the month to accommodate those who had been held up. The Post understood the airline announced that day it would waive rebooking and re-routing fees for affected students.
The hotline number is +852 3142 2522. Students may also email [email protected].