Since Hong Kong passed the National Security Law (NSL) in 2020, a wave of immigration has been sparked, with over 100,000 people moving overseas. As a result, the 4th International Immigration and Property Expo (II&PE) was held at the Wanchai Convention Centre on March 11 and 12, and 35,000 people pre-registered to attend the event, breaking the previous record.
According to figures released by the Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department (C&SD) in February 2023, the net outflow of Hong Kong people reached 60,000 in 2022.
However, Peter Tse, director of the II&PE, believes that the number of immigrants will continue to increase. “According to the statistics of the II&PE organizer on the exhibitors, it was found that there were about 250 seminars on immigration and overseas homeownership every month in the past six months, which is 20 percent more than the statistics from the last exhibition.”
Some scholars analyze that although the number of immigrants is slowing down, there is no sign of it stopping. There are still Hong Kong people migrating overseas; many Hong Kong people have already obtained relevant information through friends, relatives, or other channels.
More than 80 immigration and overseas property companies attended the exhibition, which featured over 70 seminars and information from over 20 countries.
The organizers conducted an online survey among 35,000 registered visitors earlier, and the results showed that 63 percent of the respondents said they would immigrate within one to two years, another 15 percent said they would immigrate within six months, totaling 78 percent; the remaining 22 percent said they would immigrate after two years or more.
The top three countries for Hongkongers moving abroad are the United Kingdom (38 percent), Canada (21 percent), and Australia (17 percent). The organizers believe the results reflect that those countries have introduced immigration policies for Hong Kong people, which are attractive to them.
The survey results also show that immigration is no longer the exclusive preserve of wealthy families: 36 percent of respondents said their monthly household income was over US$19,110, 22 percent earned US$6,370 to US$19,110, and 23 percent and 19 percent earned US$2,548 to US$6,370, and the remaining said less than US$2,548.
Regardless of household income, the three most popular countries for immigration are the UK, Canada, and Australia.
When asked what their top concerns were when immigrating, more than half of the respondents chose “personal employment” (52 percent), followed by “children’s education” (14 percent), “personal financial management and investment” (13 percent), and “residence” (12 percent).
After the exhibition’s closing, the organizers revealed about 30,000 visitors attended during the two days, about 36 percent lower than the 47,000 visitors of the third exhibition held in mid-June last year.
The organizers estimate that the number of immigrants has stabilized from the peak in the past two years, and this is because those with an urgent need for immigration have been leaving in the past two to three years. Therefore, they expected that there would not be another significant increase in immigrants in 2023.
‘The Wave of Immigration Will Continue for at Least Three or Four Years’
Scholar Chung Kim-wah analyzed in an interview with the Epoch Times on March 15 that the number of immigrants is slowing down, but there is no sign of it stopping. There are still Hong Kong people migrating overseas.
He noted that after the recent relaxation of the Hong Kong government’s epidemic prevention measures, many Hong Kong people traveled to pay a visit. He said that although the current wave of immigration is not as sharp as the past two years, it is expected to last at least three to four years; whether it will stop depends on the situation in Hong Kong.
As he explained, the last migration wave from Hong Kong occurred more than 30 years ago. When the current wave of immigration caused by the NSL began to spread, the Hong Kong people lacked preparation and relevant information. Therefore, they will actively attend immigration exhibitions to obtain relevant information.
But after over two years, many Hong Kong people have obtained relevant information through friends, relatives, or other platforms. As a result, many people would travel to take a look personally. They also have more time to plan the migration, so the role of immigration consultants is declining, and the number of exhibition participants will naturally decrease.
The Net Outflow of Hongkongers Reached 60,000 in 2022
According to the C&SD, a net outflow of 60,000 Hong Kongers was recorded between 2021 and 2022, more than double the 28,900 recorded in 2021.
Between mid-2018 and mid-2019, before the Anti-Extradition Law Amendment Bill Movement outbreak, 5,200 Hong Kong residents’ net arrivals were 96,400. Net Hong Kong residents that left between the end of 2019 and 2020, when the NSL took effect on June 30, 2020, were at a record high.
BNO Visa Applications Drop
The UK Government launched a BNO Visa Scheme for Hong Kong Residents to move in on Jan. 31, 2021.
However, according to the statistics released by the Home Office, the number of applications fell from 34,300 in the first quarter of 2021 to 30,600 in the second quarter, 24,000 in the third quarter, and 15,600 in the fourth quarter.
The number of applications rebounded to 19,500 in the first quarter of last year. However, they dropped to 18,100 in the second quarter, 10,100 in the third quarter, and 10,100 in the fourth quarter.
From Jan. 31, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2022, the Home Office received 160,700 BNO visa applications. Of these, 153,708 have been successfully approved, and 129,493 people have arrived in the UK.