Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said that a 24-hour hotline will be set up to provide assistance to hundreds of students who have not received their UK visas due to unexpected delays.

Lam told reporters on Tuesday morning that she met with British Consul General Andrew Heyn, who promised to speed up the visa processing.

Lam added that a 24-hour hotline will be set up on Tuesday at 3pm to allow affected students to give the government information about their situations. She said that the Hong Kong government will then follow up with the British Consulate.

Carrie Lam. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

“If there are any unique cases that require other types of assistance, we will also do our best to coordinate.” Lam said the Consul General was willing to write to schools to explain the situation.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung also met with Heyn on Monday to “express grave concern” over the matter.

The office of education lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen told HKFP that, as of 4pm on Monday, it has received 800 requests for help in total. Ip’s office said that more than 20 students who sought help from Ip have received their visa documents, but the British Consulate did not provide Ip with the exact numbers.

According to Ip, 155 students risk losing their places or delaying graduation if they fail to arrive in the UK within the week.

Photo: Tom Grundy/HKFP.

“The UK remains committed to delivering an excellent service for our visa customers in Hong Kong,” a UK Home Office spokesperson told HKFP on Monday evening. “UK Visas & Immigration currently issues around 10,000 visas in Hong Kong every year, of which more than 80 per cent are student visas.”

“We welcome their decision to study in the UK – 99 per cent of student applicants in Hong Kong are successful and the vast majority receive a decision within our service standards.”

“This is the busiest time of the year, however, and in a small number of cases in recent weeks it has not been possible to do so within the usual timescales. We are doing everything we can to ensure that these outstanding applications are resolved as quickly as possible.”

Students can also email the government with information about their cases.

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.