Hong Kong residents can apply from Sunday (January 31) for a new visa offering them an opportunity to become British citizens after Beijing’s imposition of a national security law in the Asian financial hub last year.
The move comes as China and Hong Kong have said they will no longer recognise the British National Overseas (BNO) passport as a valid travel document from Sunday, Jan. 31.
The scheme, which was first announced last year, allows those with BNO status to live, study and work in Britain for five years and eventually apply for citizenship.
Britain says it is fulfilling a historic and moral commitment to Hong Kong people after Beijing imposed the security law on the semi-autonomous city that Britain says breaches the terms of agreements under which the colony was handed back to China in 1997. The UK government forecasts the new visa could attract more than 300,000 people and their dependants to Britain. Beijing said it would make them second-class citizens.
Opinions on the streets were mixed regarding the opportunity to become British citizens.
Anson Law, a 25 year old who works in sales, said he would consider using his BNO status to move to the UK even though the economy there was not as good. Others were wary of the pandemic.