Since 2021, the UK has opened a suite of ‘safe and legal (humanitarian) routes’. Among these are the Hong Kong BN(O) and Ukraine visa schemes. How do individuals arriving in the UK through these routes understand and experience these bespoke humanitarian provisions?
This is what we discuss in our latest report entitled ‘Humanitarian visas in a hostile environment,’ which offers the first comparative analysis of the voices and perceptions of Hong Kongers and Ukrainians arriving in the UK through these schemes. It offers firsthand insights into both the experiences of applying for these visas and everyday life in the UK, drawing on qualitative interviews with 43 Hong Kongers and Ukrainians.
The report shows how geopolitical factors, historical context and individual circumstances together shape the decision-making process of Hong Kongers and Ukrainians when choosing to relocate to the UK. Hearing their accounts of their experiences of moving to the UK and establishing lives for themselves, makes visible the limits on their daily lives that result from the terms and conditions of their legal status. Finally, the report highlights the impacts of differentiated rights and entitlements on the UK’s immigration regime.
Overall, the report argues that there is a significant gap between the government's rhetoric surrounding humanitarian visas and the real-world experiences and challenges faced by beneficiaries, and calls for a more nuanced approach to address the challenges faced by visa holders, particularly in areas such as employment, educational qualifications recognition, and access to housing.
Zambelli, E. (2024) 'The UK’s new humanitarian protections: A beneficiaries’ perspective.’ MIGZEN Blog, 30 January 2024. [Online] [link]