A number of UK-bound Hong Kong students experiencing unexpected visa delays have finally received their documents, the office of education lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen has said. At least 680 students have been affected.

Ip’s office said on Sunday that some of the students received calls from Hong Kong’s British visa application centre. They were told they could visit the centre in person to collect the visa, rather than wait for it to be delivered by mail: “We will notify everyone of any further news.”

uk britain consulate
Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

As of Saturday, Ip said his office received at least 500 requests for help from local students who had not received their UK visas. The number rose to 680 on Sunday, HK01 reported.

Month-long delay

According to Ip, one of the students applied for a priority visa on August 1 – which usually takes three to five days to be processed. However, they did not receive it until one month later. As a result, the student’s place at the university was withdrawn after missing the first day of school on August 21.

Another student has negotiated with the school to delay registration, but similarly risks losing a place at the university if registration is not completed by September 6, since the term has already commenced.

Affected students range from postgraduate and undergraduate students in universities to those studying in British secondary schools. A number of students and parents have had to change flights and itineraries owing to the delays.

Ip said he has been communicating with the British Consulate, which was highly concerned about the incident and have handed applicants’ information over to their regional visa processing hub. Ip said the situation has also arisen in India, with an online petition fetching over 400 supporters. The cause of the delay remains unclear.

HKFP has contacted the British Consulate for comment.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.