We are not allowed to work

Post Date: Jan 21st, 2021 | Categories: Advocacy, Refugee Community, RU updates, programs, events, Welfare | COMMENT

We, asylum-seekers and refugees in Hong Kong, are officially called “claimants” according to the Immigration Department’s Unified Screening Mechanism (USM) implemented to assess asylum claims in the city. All asylum-seekers are banned from working under Section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance. 

However, substantiated claimants (i.e. recognized refugees) may apply for a temporary six-month work permit issued upon the discretion of the Immigration Department. This applies to very few refugees as only 272 cases were substantiated (i.e. recognized) by the Immigration Department among 24,447 USM claims determined between 2009 and September 2021. The mathematical success rate is: 1.11%

The Government provides us with insufficient assistance, namely: $1500 rent, $1200 food coupons, $300 utilities and $200 transportation – for a total of HK$ 3,200 per month. There has been no increase since January 2014. The Government claims it is sufficient to prevent refugees from working. We call this a big lie because there is no provision for clothes, shoes, haircuts, SIM cards, shaving cream, lady products, baby products, cleaning products or toilet paper – items reasonably considered essential.

What about the big expenses everyone pays in Hong Kong? Rent and rental deposits for example. The cheapest, windowless, 10 m², rundown, subdivided room costs $4000. Two refugees can share a room but they only receive $3000 for rent. The Refugee Union helps us with its limited resources. It is the only group that hands out cash to refugees. Now you can help us directly by donating cash to “Drink For Justice” – a registered charity that pass 100% of your donations to us.

Please click this link to donate: https://bit.ly/3qYFq5u

This Press Release states the government position: “The Government implemented the Unified Screening Mechanism (USM) in March 2014 to screen non-refoulement claims on all applicable grounds in one go. The United Nations’ Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol have never applied to Hong Kong, and hence illegal immigrants seeking non-refoulement in Hong Kong will not be treated as “asylum seekers” or “refugees”. The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government maintains a firm policy of not granting asylum and not determining or recognising refugee status of any person. Regardless of the outcome of their torture/non-refoulement claims, claimants are not permitted to remain legally in Hong Kong. If their claims are rejected, the Immigration Department (ImmD) will accordingly remove them to their countries of origin.” (20 May 2020)

Immigration data was collected from: https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/facts/enforcement.html