Nearly 5,000 Hong Kong citizens have applied for visas to live, work and study in the United Kingdom since changes that make it easier for people in the city to be granted entry, The Times newspaper has reported.
Britain changed its visa application program in late January, allowing Hong Kong residents who hold a British National Overseas (BNO) passport to live in the UK for five years and eventually apply for citizenship.
Britain made the visa changes after Beijing’s imposition of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong last year.
China and Hong Kong have said they will no longer recognize the BNO passport as a valid travel document from January 31. BNO status was created by Britain in 1987 specifically for Hong Kong residents.
About half of the 5,000 applications received were from Hong Kong residents who were already in Britain, The Times reported, citing sources. Those people had already been offered temporary settlement in the UK for those fleeing China’s security crackdown while waiting for the visa change.