BNO holders rush out as emergency route ends

Top News | Sophie Hui 19 Jul 2021

Thousands of Hongkongers are seizing the last chance to enter the United Kingdom before an emergency route expires.

The policy of "leave outside the rules" ends today at 11.59pm, UK time (6.59am tomorrow in Hong Kong).

Under the policy, those who have yet to get a BNO visa can be granted LOTR status at the UK border and allowed to live and work in the country for up to six months.

They can apply for a BNO visa within the UK.

After the policy expires, applicants will need to apply for a BNO visa and wait for a decision before going to the UK.

Hong Kong had five flights to London Heathrow Airport yesterday - two British Airways, two Virgin Atlantic Airways and one Cathay Pacific.

At the Hong Kong International Airport yesterday, long queues were seen of passengers waiting to check in their luggage. There were tears, hugs and selfies as friends and relatives said goodbye to those leaving.

Among them was a Ms Lee, who said she was planning to emigrate with her daughter next year but changed her mind after the UK announced to stop the LOTR.

"It was a bit rush for me to get prepared," Lee said.

"I decided to leave Hong Kong mainly because of the policies as I'm worried that they could be brainwashing [people]."

Another couple, the Wongs, decided to emigrate to the UK because they prefer the education there.

"The atmosphere in Hong Kong nowadays is like today's weather - cloudy," the wife said.

Meanwhile, a woman who emigrated to the UK with her daughter at the end of last year said life there was more difficult than she had thought.

She was also frustrated by "making many mistakes in our daily lives." But she does not regret leaving, she added.

"We face discrimination here but we came here for one thing - our children," she said.

Separately, UKHK, a group that helps newly arrived Hongkongers to the UK, found in a survey that more than half of the respondents who settled in Britain have yet to start looking for a job. It surveyed 1,012 Hongkongers between June 1 and 21.

Its founder Krish Kandiah said the job market in the UK has not recovered as many cities are under lockdown amid the pandemic, while many Hongkongers need time to settle down so they have not started looking for a job.

Some 40 percent said they are considering to start their own business. Some 60 percent have assets of over 200,000 (HK$2.14 million).

The survey found that 60 percent will emigrate or are already there with their children, while more than 10 percent will bring their parents along.

More than 35,000 BNO passport holders have applied for the new five-year BNO visa route since its launch on January 31. The path allows them to apply for settled status after a five-year stay and citizenship after an additional 12 months.

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