There were around 65,000 BNO visa applicants as of 30 June 2021, according to the UK Home Office. A recent survey by CUHK said 42 percent of the interviewees plan to leave the city, with UK being the top destination.
In July 2020, the UK government announced the BNO visa policy, allowing Hong Kong BNO passport holders and their dependents to live, work and study in the UK for 5 years. After that, applicants can apply for settlement and British citizenship. This decision came after the enactment of the National Security Law in Hong Kong.
The visa was opened for application on 31 January 2021. According to the UK Home Office, there were 34,300 applications between January and March, and 30,600 applications between Mar and June this year, adding up to a total of 64,900 applications.
Rise Smart Overseas Education Centre, an agency helping people to pursue overseas study, said they have received more consultation requests regarding the BNO visa and studying in the UK from June onwards, compared to the first half of the year.
“Because school is starting in September, so more parents are preparing for the study of their children,” said Venus, who works in the agency. She added that the UK immigration scheme is more family-friendly when compared to other countries, such as Australia and Canada.
Based on his own observations from various social media groups and his peers, Ricky, a Hongkonger who moved to the UK in July this year, believes even more people will be moving to the UK next year.
“I see many people have plans to move [there] but just not immediately,” he said. “They want to have a more detailed plan before moving.”
According to a survey released by the Chinese University of Hong Kong in October, 42 percent of the interviewees said they have plans to migrate, with the UK being the most popular destination, followed by Canada and Australia. The survey interviewed 716 people aged 18 or above.
On social media, there are posts comparing the different immigration requirements by countries such as the UK, Australia, and Canada. Photo: Instagram
Yue, a final year student at the University of Hong Kong, also plans to move to the UK next year through the BNO visa policy with his family.
“I want to finish my bachelor’s degree in Hong Kong first, because if I am to finish my bachelor’s in the UK, it will be more difficult. As the school systems are different, the UK has a 3-years school system while Hong Kong has 4,” said Yue, who also considered the UK tuition fee is more expensive for him as an international student.