The new UK immigration scheme for BNO passport-holders in Hong Kong opened for applications on 31st January 2021. How could this impact the UK property market?
In the past few years, there has been unrest in Hong Kong due to China’s proposed extradition rule changes. In June 2020, China revealed it could bring in a new national security law for Hong Kong residents. This led Prime Minster Boris Johnson to change immigration rules for BNO passport-holders in Hong Kong and provide a new path to citizenship.
In the past month, numerous pro-democracy politicians and activists in Hong Kong have been arrested for allegedly attempting to overthrow the city’s government. On 6 January, over 50 people were detained through the national security law. This, along with the special visa for BNO passport-holders, could lead to an influx of Hong Kong residents emigrating to the UK.
New visa open for applications
BNO status-holders can now apply online for the new visa. Eligible applicants can apply for a 30-month or five-year visa. After living in the UK for five years, many will be able to apply for settlement. And 12 months following that, those that are eligible can apply for citizenship.
The government estimates 5.4m Hong Kong residents are eligible for the scheme. That equates to approximately 72% of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million population. There is an estimated 2.9m BNO status-holders and 2.3m of their dependents. Additionally, there are approximately 187,000 people aged between 18 and 23 years old with at least one parent who is a BNO passport-holder.
It’s difficult to estimate how many eligible Hong Kong residents will apply for the visa and move to the UK. However, the government predicts 300,000 people will apply in the next five years. The Home Office revealed that since July 2020 about 7,000 people from Hong Kong have already been allowed to settle in the UK.
Check out the UK government’s website to learn more about visa eligibility, costs and how to apply.
Interest in UK real estate soars
Since the new path to citizenship was first announced, there has been a surge of interest in UK property from Hong Kong buyers. This could pick up even more now that the visa is open for applications. Interest in UK property will likely soar particularly form buyers seeking citizenship. Most parties are looking at this as an investment with scope to live.
London in particular has attracted a high level of investment from Hong Kong buyers and investors. Other major UK cities are seeing strong interest as well, including Manchester and Liverpool. Property and living costs in these regional cities are more affordable and are home to growing job markets.
Beyond the property itself, it is also important for buyers and investors to receive professional support on how to purchase property in the UK. This ensures they get access to the best options for their circumstances. And acquisition, income and exit strategy all need to be taken into account.
How a property is bought can impact many areas and have different tax implications. For example, buying as an individual or a limited company can affect finance options, taxable income and numerous other factors. BuyAssociation can help investors explore all of their options.
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