The UK is granting five passports a minute to Hong Kong residents. This will lead to an influx of people emigrating in the coming years and will boost the housing market.
The UK Passport Office is issuing a record number of British National Overseas (BNO) passports to residents of Hong Kong. During the first 10 months of 2020, the UK issued more than 216,000 passports. The passports are being approved at a rate of about five a minute based on an average eight-hour working day, according to a Bloomberg News report.
The monthly numbers began increasing dramatically in July. This was when the UK announced the new visa to BNO passport holders in Hong Kong. The visa allows eligible people and their dependents to reside in Britain for five years and provides an easier path towards citizenship.
These numbers will likely continue to rise, especially as the opening date for visa applications on 31st of January nears. In the month of October alone, the UK issued 60,000 BNO passports. This was more than a 52% jump from the same month in 2019. This is also the highest monthly figure since the Passport Office began compiling this data in 2015.
Additionally, in 2020, UK has issued more passports to Hong Kong residents than any year since 1997. In 2019, the UK approved approximately 151,000 passports and only approved about 18,000 passports for Hong Kong residents in 2018.
How many Hong Kong residents are likely to move to the UK?
With a large number of Hong Kong residents renewing their BNO passports, many are eyeing up their options. It is estimated that 2.9m are eligible for BNO passports. Additionally, as many as 2.3m of their dependents would also be eligible, according to the UK government.
The Home Office is expecting nearly half a million people to move in the first three years of the new visa. However, HongKongers in Britain has said the number could be over 600,000.
Julian Chan, head of public affairs at HongKongers in Britain, says: “With events in Hong Kong since 2019, it is perhaps with little surprise that a very significant amount of Hongkongers are contemplating emigration to the UK soon.”
This influx of those emigrating will boost the UK housing market. While thousands of Hong Kong residents already own property in the UK, this number will likely increase further. Since the announcement of the new visa, there has been a surge of potential buyers from Hong Kong. Interest in UK property will continue to soar from buyers specifically seeking citizenship.
London, Manchester and Liverpool have been particularly attractive for Hong Kong buyers and investors. Interest in these areas will increase even further as the opening date for visa applications nears and Hong residents begin emigrating to the UK through the new visa.