They came to Scotland on British passports to start a new life.

Families who left Hong Kong looking for stability are looking forward but they have some concerns about their future.

Glasgow is home to many of the more than 100,000 people who left Hong Kong in the last two years since the growth of the democracy movement and protests against China were met with force from the Government.

They are not asylum seekers or refugees but have a special status of British National (Overseas) (BNO).

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Glasgow Times:

From January 31, 2021, British National (Overseas) citizens have had the option to apply for a five-year limited leave to remain in order to live, study or work in the UK. 

But their right to remain in the UK permanently is not guaranteed and have to pass an English test after five years for citizenship.

A group of people who moved here from Hong Kong told the Glasgow Times about life in the city.

We have not used their real names to protect their identity.

The people want to integrate and be part of Scottish society but problems accessing housing, leading to exposure to unscrupulous landlords, difficulty finding work and language barriers are all issues causing them concern.

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One man, Simon, said: “We have British passports but are treated differently.”

He and his wife want a permanent life in Scotland but their future is uncertain.

He said: “I am concerned if we have a baby and then we don’t have the permanent right to live here.

“We all want to stay here and have a new life here. It is unfair. People can come from other places and stay.

“We want to have children but we are worried about our nationality.”

The group all said since arriving in Glasgow they have been met with friendliness by the people.

However, some are struggling with the language and local dialect and need help with lessons to be able to pass a test.

A woman, May, said: “We have been learning English since Kindergarten but it is very different here. It is difficult to understand people.

“I need more help learning the language and the local language.”

But they said they have had no direction on how to access English courses.

Another said: “We need help for Cantonese speakers but we don’t know where to go for help.”

The language is a barrier to obtaining work similar to what they did in Hong Kong but so too are regulations.

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Peter has been in the city for under two years.

He said: “Our qualifications are not recognised here. Many of us are teachers, nurses and social workers but are working in shops, supermarkets, distribution centres and takeaways.

“We are working for minimum wage because we don’t have experience here.

“People are working in Amazon who were teachers in Hong Kong.”

Glasgow Times:

Housing is a serious issue, with many unable to afford to buy a home and most left with only the private rented sector as a choice.

May said: " I was almost made homeless when the landlord increased the rent by 35% from £760 to £920.”

She added: “Landlords want a credit score. I know one person was asked to pay one year’s rent in advance.”

Another told how they cannot access benefits including housing benefits.

People entering the UK BNO people must pay an upfront charge to use the NHS.

One man said: “Some Hong Kong people are rich when they sold their house in Hong Kong but most of us are not.”

They explained why they left Hong Kong.

Glasgow Times:

One woman Lee, said: “Hong Kong is broken, politically.”

Another said “We lost free speech. The government doesn’t serve the people. They can do anything to people.”

“The main reason people my age are coming to Britain is for the children. They are being brainwashed to trust the government.”

An older man, in his 60s, said: “I was born in Hong Kong. I can’t go back, it has changed so much. It is not the place I was born and raised in. It would be dangerous to go back.

“It is a big thing to move your home and family to another country.”

Before coming to the UK BNO people from Hong Kong need to have a level of funds to sustain themselves.

The amounts are £2000 for a single adult, £3100 for a couple with a child, and a couple with three children need to have £4600.

A family of two parents and two adult children needs £9200.

The UK Government says after five years people can apply to stay permanently at an additional cost.

Each person must apply individually with a fee of £2404 per person.

Glasgow City Council said there are a number of English as a Second Language courses available and projects in communities to help new arrivals to the city integrate.

Glasgow politicians have been made aware of issues relating to people with BN(O) status.

Paul Sweeney, Glasgow Labour MSP, said he has met with some people and will be submitting questions to find out what support is available.

While Alison Thewliss, SNP MP for Glasgow Central, said she has also had some dealings with people concerned about their status.

The UK Government has previously stated some individuals on the BN(O) route have reported issues accessing employment including converting professional qualifications.

It said ministers had written to chief executives of professional bodies to increase awareness of the BN(O) visa.