Fewer Hong Kongers Are Applying for New U.K. Visa Program
(Bloomberg) -- The number of Hong Kongers applying for a visa that provides a pathway to U.K. citizenship continues to fall.
The decline comes as the pandemic continues to weigh on international travel. The high death rate in the U.K. as the virus spreads may be deterring some applicants, while anybody returning to Hong Kong to visit family faces spending as many as three weeks in a hotel as part of quarantine measures.
There were 24,000 applications for the British National (Overseas) in the third quarter compared with about 34,300 in the first quarter and about 30,600 in the second quarter, the latest government data show.
Some people using the route found themselves unable to take their retirement money with them, Bloomberg reported in August, as China cracks down on the city’s freedoms.
The visa was drawn up amid concerns in London about the imposition of the national security law on Hong Kong, a former British colony. Officials had estimated that more than 320,000 people could take up the offer in its first five years.
“People applied for the visa in June so that they could move with their families in the summer,” said Johnny Patterson, policy director at U.K.-based charity Hong Kong Watch, which promotes human rights. “Looking forward, it seems likely to me that the number of BNO applications will ebb and flow in response to events on the ground in Hong Kong.”
The visa to remain in the U.K. for five years costs 3,370 pounds ($4,500). Successful applicants must also pay a health-care surcharge and show they have enough funds to house and feed themselves for six months.
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