Potential visa changes prompt surge in UK property demand from Hong Kong

Potential visa changes prompt surge in UK property demand from Hong Kong

  • After China threatens Hong Kong with extra security laws, a proposed visa change is already prompting a boost in demand for the UK property market.

News of protests in Hong Kong have been a mainstay of the headlines for the last year after extradition legislation inflamed fears of mainland China’s autocratic expansion into the state, and only last month further national security laws were threatened by China. Many residents are considering their options for overseas relocation, and thanks to strong historical, political and social ties, the United Kingdom is a popular location.

Recognising these ties to Hong Kong, the UK government have pledged to change immigration rules for Hong Kong residents. This new visa initiative is quoted by Boris Johnson to be one of the “biggest changes” to the UK visa system ever seen. The original layout for the plan was to offer the change in regulations to all those currently holding a “BNO” passport – a British National Overseas passport.

BNO passport holders in Hong Kong number at about 350,000, but Boris Johnson went a big step further in stating that visa changes apply not just to those with a BNO passport, but all those eligible for one. This amounts to granting the right to work and live in the UK to 3 million residents.

Here’s exactly what the Prime Minister had to say:

“If China imposes its national security law, the British government will change its immigration rules and allow any holder of these passports from Hong Kong to come to the UK for a renewable period of 12 months and be given further immigration rights including the right to work which would place them on the route to citizenship.”

Passport applications have already seen a surge, with one immigration consultancy stating numbers have doubled from 50 to 100 a day.

Unrest in Hong Kong has already had a big effect on the demand for UK property, with some sources quoting that enquiries from Hong Kong have more than doubled in the last two months compared to the first quarter, and now property consultancies are expecting, and experiencing even more interest.

UK property has traditionally been a lucrative form of investment for overseas investors, including those from Hong Kong. Stability in the market, high growth, competitive prices, changes to Stamp Duty and beneficial exchange rates combine to make the UK a leading investment location. On exchange rates in particular, these are favourable to Hong Kong residents at the moment as the Pound Sterling has weakened from 12.06 in 2015 to about 9.38 against the Hong Kong dollar in recent weeks.

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