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We maintain that a refugee is any person who seeks temporary refuge in Hong Kong.

We make no legal distinction between the many labels that are often applied in Hong Kong to divide and confound refugees among “refugee”, “protection claimant”, “torture claimants” and “asylum-seeker”.

Our definition of refugee encompasses anyone who has been seeking or has sought refuge in Hong Kong, or is in a refugee-like situation in the city.

Vision First is a proponent of the view that every asylum claim (be it cruelty, refugee or torture) must be approached on the premise that it is genuine unless and until it is proven that it cannot be substantiated by the claimant.

This means that a claimant must be afforded every opportunity to substantiate his claim and have recourse to proper legal remedies through the courts in the event of a rejection by the Administration.

No adverse inferences must be drawn against an asylum seeker until such remedies have been finally exhausted.

In the interim, this principle maintains that asylum seekers should benefit from the rights and privileges enjoyed by all citizens – as economic expectations are hardly incompatible with seeking asylum.

The lack of a comprehensive asylum system has resulted in a mechanism of migration control that works just fine for the government. Refugees work in the informal economy propelling several economic sectors that are pillar to the development of Hong Kong into a global city.

The illegalization of refugees ensures they will never become citizens, while their management is made easy by the criminalization of their labour, which enables to easily strengthen or relax removals in view of arrivals and local economic conditions.

(Read blog for details)

We base our intervention on the realization that refugees are people whose rights are often grossly violated from the moment they decide to depart their homeland. Having reached Hong Kong they are unjustifiably prohibited to work to generate an income to support themselves. This forces dependency and vulnerability, while encouraging risky decisions that may cause their criminalization, reinforcing stereotyping and thereby further restrictive policies and politics.

We operate on the assumption that how a society treats less fortunate populations is a reflection of its values and overall health.

Vision First members are refugees who have been introduced to Vision First as individuals or families in need of basic support.

Vision First members come from countries across South Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Eastern Europe.

As of November 2014 there were about 10,000 refugees registered with the Hong Kong Immigration Department.