US Ends Preferential Visa Policies for Hong Kong nationals

President Trump signed an Executive Order on July 14, 2020 terminating preferential treatment within the US immigration rules towards foreign nationals born in Hong Kong and Hong Kong SAR passport holders.

In announcing the changes, Trump declared that “Hong Kong will now be treated the same as mainland China.”

The Executive Order comes in response to the Chinese government’s actions to establish greater control over Hong Kong, and most recently, the introduction of strict security laws in Hong Kong.

Impact of the changes

Hong Kong citizens are now to subject to the same US immigrant visa quotas and nonimmigrant visa validity rules as citizens of the People’s Republic of China.

Nonimmigrant visas

Hong Kong nationals are now subject to the same visa validity and fee rules as apply to PRC passport holders. This means shorter visa validity periods for visa categories such as:

  • H-1B and H-4 visas: maximum of 12 months validity, down from 60 months.
  • L-1 and L-2 visas: maximum of 24 months, from 60 months with an additional reciprocity fee of $120.
  • O visas: maximum validity of three months, from 60 months.
  • B-1/B-2 visa: remains at a maximum of 10 years, but there is now an additional requirement for Hong Kong citizens to register their visas in the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS).

The end of separate visa validity and fee policies for Hong Kong will impact employers with established mobility programs between the US and Hong Kong.

Employers are advised to consider how the Order will impact talent recruitment and mobility, and how any US-located personnel holding Hong Kong SAR passports will be affected by the change in rules. H, L and O nonimmigrants, for example, will need to apply for extensions with greater frequency – attracting great cost, bureaucracy and uncertainty.

Immigrant visas

Hong Kong nationals applying for a US Green Card will, under the new rules, be counted against the quota for China. Petitioners should now expect lengthy backlogs and wait times for US immigrant visa classifications.

US immigration advice

NNU Immigration are US immigration and nationality specialists. For the latest advice for your specific circumstances, please contact our US immigration attorneys.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.

Last updated: July 20, 2020