A sure sign that more are eyeing to move abroadTop News | Cindy Wan 7 Nov 2019
There is a marked rise in the number of applications for certificates of no criminal conviction - a document required for emigration abroad.
According to police figures, 26,000 certificates were issued in the first 10 months of the year, surpassing last year's total of 23,000.
Benny Cheung Ka-hei, director of Goldmax Immigration Consulting, said there had been a drastic rise in customer inquiries since June.
The average daily inquiries were around 10 before the fugitive bill saga. But now his company has been receiving at least 30 inquiries a day in the last five months.
Cheung said his company used to make around 20 to 30 deals a month, but it has been up to around 60 deals a month since June.
"We don't ask clients why they want to move, but many have told us they are losing confidence in the government after seeing how it is handling the protests," he said.
"Some said they are worried about the current social conditions. The problem lies with people's faith in society."
Cheung expects that applications for certificates of no criminal conviction will continue to rise in the coming two to three years, with many only just starting their emigration plans and so have yet to start the paperwork.
"It takes around one to two years to apply to move to Australia and the United States and around three years to Canada. So they don't need to apply for the certificate at the moment," he explained.
The recent surge in the applications could be from those who want to move to places with shorter application periods, Cheung said. He also noted a trend in which more relatively lower-income families are asking about moving to countries with lower emigration requirements, such as Taiwan and Malaysia.
"The middle-class family constituted more than 80 percent of my clientele, but now more families who cannot meet the high emigration requirements of English-speaking Western countries are considering places in Southeast Asia," he said.
At the same time, a committee on foreign affairs in Britain's House of Commons released a report recommending that the UK government extend the right of abode to Hong Kong residents who are British National Overseas passport holders.
"We are therefore deeply concerned by the events in Hong Kong over the last six months, which have demonstrated that Hong Kong's autonomy is at risk, especially in the area of the rule of law, which underpins its economy," the report stated.