Individuals Born in Hong Kong Chargeable to Mainland China for Immigrant Visa Purposes

The White House issued an executive order on Hong Kong normalization on July 14, 2020. The order seeks to deprive Hong Kong of privileges that set it apart from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including preferential treatment under U.S. law for persons born in Hong Kong. With respect to immigration, the order suspends the applicability of Section 201(a) of the United States–Hong Kong Policy Act of 1992 to a number of immigration statutes that treated persons born in Hong Kong separately from those born in the PRC for purposes of immigrant chargeability and per-country immigrant ceilings.

The effect of this change will be to make persons born in Hong Kong who are seeking to obtain U.S. permanent resident status chargeable to the “China-Mainland Born” chargeability area, rather than to the “All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed” area (commonly referred to as the “Worldwide” area of chargeability), to which persons born in Hong Kong were previously charged.

The practical impact will be that such persons will now face much longer waiting periods before they can become permanent residents, since the cutoff dates applicable to the Mainland China area of chargeability are much earlier than those applied to the Rest of the World area.

The executive order would also prevent persons born in Hong Kong from participating in the Diversity Visa program, which grants up to 50,000 immigrant visas annually through a random selection process.

The executive order is valid indefinitely, and the U.S. immigration agencies have been given 15 days from the date of the order to “commence all appropriate actions” to implement it.