[Article written by Benjamin Hu, Esq. as Of Counsel to the Ganey Law Group]
On Monday 2020-12-07, the U.S. House voted to pass H.R.7428, the “Hong Kong People’s Freedom and Choice Act,” in a move to offer Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to lawful permanent residents of Hong Kong who do not hold any other passports. TPS status would allow them to remain in the US lawfully while emergency conditions continue in Hong Kong and to obtain employment and re-entry travel documents while here.
H.R.7428 also notably carves out a separate visa quota for Hong Kong residents for the next five years, separate and distinct from the per-country visa quota associated with mainland China. Although this practice has already been in place for decades, the bill’s explicit guidance on this serves as a clear rebuff to President Trump’s quixotic Executive Order on 2020-07-14, which eliminated the separate visa quota for Hong Kong applicants and instead forced them to be counted with mainland China-born applicants. Trump’s rationale cited U.S. political opposition to mainland China’s policies regarding Hong Kong, but the actual procedural effect was, perversely, solely to punish Hong Kong’s visa applicants, with minimal effect on Chinese visa applicants. The U.S. Department of State issued a prompt stay on the Executive Order, and it is still following its prior guidelines of processing Hong Kong applicants in their own separate visa pool.
The House bill must be approved in the Senate and ratified by the White House before it becomes law. With just over one month left in the current administration, it is uncertain whether the incumbent has the administrative time to ratify such a bill or would be inclined to do so, given past rulemaking trends.
Are you a Hong Kong resident seeking to travel to the US? Whether looking to travel for tourism, study or seeking a green card via employment or investments, our offices can help. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to discuss the best strategy for your company or family.