Britain has received SIX times as many visa applications from Hong Kong as from the EU since new rules kicked in
- UK received 34,000 visa applications from former colony in first quarter of 2021
- Total visa applications from EU stood at just 5,354, due to Covid and Brexit rules
- More than 300,000 Hong Kong residents predicted to make the move to the UK
The number of Hong Kong citizens applying for UK visas this year has dwarfed the number applying from the European Union, a report revealed Thursday.
In the first quarter of 2021, Britain received 34,000 right-to-reside visa applications from the former British colony, compared to just 5,354 total visa requests from the EU, according to the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.
It comes after plans were set out last year to allow British National (Overseas) (BNO) citizens and their relatives who live in Hong Kong to apply for visas to live and work in the UK.
The scheme came into force on January 31 after Beijing imposed a new national security law upon Hong Kong last year in a widely condemned crackdown on dissent.
China had previously promised to allow Hong Kong to retain its freedom of expression and independent legal system when it took the colony back in 1997.
The British government has forecast the scheme – open to those with a British National Overseas (BNO) passport, a special status created before 1997 and held by almost 3 million Hong Kong residents – could attract more than 300,000 people and their family members.
Some 300,000 people from Hong Kong could arrive in the first year after the visa becomes available in January, the estimations from Home Office officials suggest
Meanwhile, new post-Brexit rules have made it more difficult for Europeans to set up a new life in Britain.
The Migration Observatory confirmed the low take up of visas from the EU reflected new post-Brexit realities, including the end of freedom of movement, while also citing the effect of the Covid crisis.
‘In normal times, we might have expected to see employers scrambling to work out what they need to do to recruit EU nationals after the end of free movement,’ Madeleine Sumption, the Observatory’s director, said.
‘But the pandemic has meant that many employers do not need to use the new immigration system yet.
‘So it could be some time before we get a good sense of how many EU citizens are moving to the UK under the new rules and what their impacts appear to be.’
EU citizens living in Britain prior to 2021 are able to apply for settled status under a separate scheme.
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