65,000 Hongkongers apply for British visas over five months

More than 65,000 Hongkongers have now applied for Britain’s bespoke five-year visa scheme, according to new figures issued by the UK government on 1 September. The scheme, which offers up to 5.4 million Hongkongers a five-year visa and a path to permanent British citizenship, was opened on 31 January following the introduction of China’s new security laws last year.

The UK Home Office said it received 34,300 applications for the immigration route for British National Overseas (BNO) citizens in the first two months of the scheme, with a further 30,600 applications between April and June. It expects about 300,000 to apply within the first five years of the scheme.

The route is available to 350,000 Hongkongers who hold BNO passports and a further 2.5 million who are eligible for one. There are an additional 2.5 million dependants who could also apply — taking the total to 5.4 million. The government has put no limits on the number who could be admitted but expects many to stay or prefer to move to places in the Pacific region such as Taiwan or Singapore.

The UK government has spent £43 million on projects to help Hongkongers integrate into their local communities. The Integration Programme has introduced 12 ‘welcome hubs’ to help families and individuals access housing, education and employment in the UK.

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