The “security law”, which the democratic movement in Hong Kong has been fighting hard for, is causing the biggest wave of immigration. Great Britain relaxed immigration rules for millions of Hong Kong residents in several months of protests, some of which were violent. Holders of a British National Foreign Passport (PNO) can apply for a work and residence visa to Great Britain and obtain British citizenship after five years.
About 70 percent of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents are policy holders of PNO passports. Since the law came into force, the number of applications has increased. London expects 322,000 people to come from Hong Kong over the next five years. But now many of those who escaped repression in Hong Kong find themselves trapped in the British bureaucracy. Although the affluent can settle relatively easily, the financially weak are retreating.
Conditions for a visa
PNO visas are chargeable to residents of Hong Kong over the age of 18: Additional fees for visa and health insurance, 3 3,370. In addition, interested parties must have sufficient funds to stay on their own for at least six months. Many young activists who campaigned for democratic reform in Hong Kong are in question. No visa without money, no insurance number without visa, so no work.
Despite all the protests, the law came into force in 2020 and is directed against actions that China sees as oppressive, separatist or terrorist. Hong Kong’s former British Crown Colony has been owned by China since 1997 and is autonomously administered as a special administrative region.
Krrish Candia, a UKHK-based church organization that supports immigration, told Bloomberg that about 200 young Democrats have come to Great Britain since the beginning of February alone. Many people do not have the authority to apply for a PNO visa or simply cannot afford it. “It would be tragic if the path designed to help the people of Hong Kong for fear of political persecution did not benefit the most needy,” Kandiya said.
Long, expensive wait
Instead, many are now coming to the UK on a tourist visa and applying for asylum in the traditional way or by applying for asylum for a limited period of time through the “leave out of asylum” regulation. The immigration process is complex and slow. It can take several months to reach a result, and further delays are caused by corona virus infection.
According to Bloomberg, the UK Home Office does not have official estimates of the number of people applying for non-PNO passports. Voluntary charities complain about the lack of help and cooperation. Meanwhile, asylum seekers are leaving their last money, fearing that many will be deported as a result. Kevin Foster, the minister in charge of immigration, said he was proud of one of the aids given to Hong Kong. “Those who are not eligible for a PNO visa can immigrate to the UK under current conditions to live, work or study.”
Great interest among wealthy newcomers
Hong Kongers who do not have money problems come to shop in large numbers in Great Britain. Last year, one-tenth of real estate buyers in London and its suburbs came from specialized management, according to a study by real estate firm Hampton International. According to Reuters, a trend can be seen in the real estate business: brokers are increasingly saying that homes and apartments are being bought primarily for the sub. It makes money to settle permanently in Great Britain.
Prosperous entrepreneurs also offered courses to gain the necessary knowledge in Hong Kong. The London real estate market is high, but not as expensive as Hong Kong. In mid-February alone the five-room apartment changed hands for 49 million euros – 156,000 euros per square meter. Hong Kong has been named the world’s most expensive housing market several times.
Although financially strong newcomers from Hong Kong are buying London apartments, the real estate market in the British capital is set to decline by about 13 per cent by 2020, according to Bloomberg. Even a large number of immigrants and investors from abroad could not make up for the epidemic-related losses. Residents and buyers will flee London from the plague and search for homes in the countryside.