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Emigration to UK Reaches New High as Over 110,000 Hongkongers Have Arrived in UK

It has been over two years since the United Kingdom launched The BNO (5+1) visa for Hong Kong people at the end of January 2021.

The British Home Office announced that as of the first quarter of 2023, a total of 139,144 people had been approved for BNO visas abroad, of which 113,500 have arrived in the UK.

In the first quarter of 2023, the Home Office received 9,411 BNO applications.

After Hong Kong’s anti-extradition movement in 2019, Beijing passed the Hong Kong version of the National Security Law to stifle Hong Kong’s freedom.

Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated in June 2020 that the Hong Kong National Security Law severely destroyed the Sino-British Joint Statement; The British government immediately launched an immigration visa program specifically for Hong Kong people. The program ushered in a new wave of large-scale immigration from Hong Kong, a former third-largest financial center in the world.

According to the British Home Office’s data, from Jan. 31, 2021, to Mar. 31, the office received 172,500 BNO visa applications.

During the same period, 139,144 Hongkongers were granted BNO visas abroad, while 27,276 BNO visas were issued in the United Kingdom. That marked a total of 166,420 BNO visa issuance.

Among the approval, 113,500 people have already arrived in the United Kingdom.

In the first quarter of 2023, the British authorities received 9,411 BNO applications, with 9,279 BNO visas issued, of which 3,014 were approved within the United Kingdom soil.

However, the office rejected over 300 applications.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) data showed that the number of net immigrants in the UK reached a record high in 2022, putting pressure on the British Conservative government, which promised to reduce immigration in its 2019 manifesto.

The number of net immigrants in the UK in 2022 is 606,000, of which about 114,000 come from Ukraine and about 52,000 are from Hong Kong.

After the CCP implemented the Hong Kong National Security Law, many Hongkongers moved to the United Kingdom, while many Ukrainians fled to the United Kingdom due to the Russian invasion.

The record shows that asylum seekers still pending decisions have been backlogged and increased to 172,758 people.

In addition, the number of international students has increased significantly after the pandemic; the number of visas for skilled workers has also soared—especially in health care, which is why non-EU immigration has risen drastically.

At the time of the Brexit referendum, some supporters believed that Brexit would lead to a reduction in immigration, but in the changing international landscape, it is clear that the government’s desire to control immigration has not been realized. According to statistics, the vast majority of foreigners arriving in the UK (925,000) are non-EU nationals, and about one in twelve of them are asylum seekers.

Jay Lindop, director of the Centre for International Migration at the ONS, said, “The main drivers of the increase were people coming to the UK from non-EU countries for work, study, and humanitarian purposes, including those arriving from Ukraine and Hong Kong,” she said.

It puts pressure on British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. Although the UK’s public services and health care sector need staffing, he has inherited the promises of several predecessors and made reducing immigration a political goal.

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