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S. 295: Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 8, 2021.

Hong Kong Safe Harbor Act

This bill designates certain Hong Kong residents with priority status for refugee consideration and contains other related provisions.

An individual and certain family members shall have such priority status if the individual (1) is a Hong Kong resident who suffered persecution or has a well-founded fear of persecution as a result of peaceful political activity; or (2) has been formally charged, detained, or convicted for certain peaceful actions. An individual receiving refugee status under this bill shall not be counted against various numerical limitations.

When determining whether an individual shall be admitted as a refugee, an individual whose citizenship, nationality, or residency was revoked for submitting a nonfrivolous application for a U.S. immigration benefit shall be considered to have suffered persecution on account of political opinion.

The general presumption that an alien is seeking immigrant status shall not apply to certain Hong Kong residents seeking asylum into the United States. (Typically, an alien seeking admission as a nonimmigrant must establish that the alien does not intend to immigrate to the United States.) This exception to the presumption shall apply to certain individuals involved in the 2019 and 2020 protests against China's encroachment into Hong Kong's autonomy (Hong Kong is a part of China but has a separate legal and economic system).

An individual from Hong Kong may not be denied admission into the United States if the primary reason for the denial is a politically motivated government action against the individual's involvement in protests.