Hong Kongers heading to Britain under new visa scheme to be offered help with housing and education

Lucy Fisher
·2 min read
British National (Overseas) passports - Vincent Yu/AP
British National (Overseas) passports - Vincent Yu/AP

Help to access housing, education and employment will be offered to hundreds of thousands of Hong Kongers migrating to Britain under a new visa scheme.

Twelve “welcome hubs” are to be set up to help families and individuals from Hong Kong who are holders of British National (Overseas) passports and choose to relocate to the UK.

The assistance programme is being rolled out after the Government opened up a fresh visa route to allow millions of people from the territory to come live and work in the UK, as well as seek full British citizenship further down the line.

Boris Johnson announced the plan last year in response to China imposing a draconian national security law on Hong Kong, which Britain said undermined the "one country, two systems" principle that underscored the territory's autonomy from Beijing.

Around 5.5 million Hong Kongers and their dependents are eligible for the scheme. While the uptake is difficult to predict, officials estimate around 300,000 people will move to the UK over the next five years.

The new virtual hubs will co-ordinate support and give practical assistance in applying for school places, registering with GPs and setting up businesses.

More than £40 million in state funding has been allocated to the programme, which will help support housing costs and facilitate English language lessons for those Hong Kongers that need it.

Government insiders believe that it is likely to be wealthier, English-speaking citizens from the territory who choose the UK over other destinations, however.

Schools will also receive dedicated teaching resources to help pupils learn about the historic connection between Hong Kong and Britain before the handover to China in 1997.

The Government has said the visa route and assistance programme deliver on the UK’s “historic and moral commitment” to the people of Hong Kong who chose to retain their ties to the UK by taking up BN(O) status 24 years ago.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick last night extended a welcome to Hong Kongers and told them the Government is “doing everything in its power to ensure your success and happiness here”.

He added: “We are a champion of freedom and democracy and will live up to our responsibilities to the people of Hong Kong, so that these families will come to find the UK a place they can call home”

Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, said: “It’s an unprecedented and generous scheme and there is no other visa in the world of this nature. We are working hard to successfully resettle people here and recognise there is nothing more difficult than leaving your home to rebuild a life in a new country.

“I know communities up and down our country will welcome new arrivals with open arms and support them to build a new life in the UK.”