Right of Family Reunion

“The widest possible protection and assistance should be accorded to the family, which is the natural and fundamental group unit of society, particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of dependent children. Special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and young persons without any discrimination for reasons of parentage or other conditions …”

(extracted from Article 10 of ICESCR)


“… applications by a child or his or her parents to enter or leave a State Party for the purpose of family reunification shall be dealt with by States Parties in a positive, humane and expeditious manner…”

(extracted from Article 10 of CRC)

All that a child wants is to live with their parents, but this is too good to be true for split families. There are some 90,000 split families in Hong Kong. Family reunion is a luxurious dream that takes most of them 15 to 20 years to realize. The Hong Kong Government can do little to improve the situation because it has no power to vet family reunion applications. All applications have to go through mainland authorities. One-way Permits are granted on individual basis, not on a family basis. A mother and her child/children cannot come at the same time. The number of children affected is around 200,000 . What makes the matter worse is the approval procedures lack transparency. This has dragged split families into a long dark tunnel that they can hardly see the light at the far end of it.


SoCO organized these families and mainland mothers who have illegally stayed in Hong Kong to lodge their complaints to both mainland and Hong Kong authorities and to call for a fairer immigration policy and a more transparent set of procedures. We also ask the authorities to let the Hong Kong Government have the power to approve applications for family reunion. After years of effort, the Security Bureau finally set up a points system to improve the application system. The waiting time was reduced from 20 years to 4.5years. However, the application is still not on a family basis and the problem of corruption is still rampant. SoCO will keep on with the fight.

Social reality


  • Nearly 100,000 families have long separated between China and Hong Kong
  • Reunion waiting time varies; can vary from 4 to 8 years
  • 150 reunion places are not exhausted every day, the Hong Kong government has no approval power
  • If cross-border marriage has accident, death or abundant children. Young children in Hong Kong have no place to apply for Mainland mothers to come to Hong Kong for care.

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