Research by real estate firm Astons has found that wealthy Chinese and Hong Kong nationals are the most likely to head to the country via the UK Tier One Investor visa during the pandemic.
Meanwhile, over 34,000 Hong Kong citizens so far this year have applied for the UK’s bespoke BNO visa scheme that was launched in 2020 following Beijing’s democracy crackdown.
“The offer of the British National Overseas (BNO) visa has spurred a large migration of Hong Kong nationals to British shores,” managing director Arthur Sarkisian said.
“However, this interest hasn’t been confined to the BNO visa alone and Hong Kong’s wealthy have continued to show strong interest in the UK Tier One Investor visa throughout the pandemic as an alternative path when relocating.”
The number of applicants for the programoverall has sunk 20 per cent on pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of this year, as Covid-19 has scuppered travel plans across the globe.
Applicants for accompanying children have also tumbled 37 per cent, as a pandemic is not a prime time to uproot lives.
The pandemic-induced 41 per cent decline has also shed the value of applications, as the programme generated £382m less than it did before the current coronavirus emerged.
However, the programme, which has still so far raked in £522m since the start of Covid-19, has continued to appeal to the super rich who are able to bypass packed flights for private jets.
Chinese and Hong Kong nationals have accounted for an average of 24 per cent of all main applications each quarter.
However, the market share of Hong Kong applicants using this visa type dropped nine per centage points from 16 per cent to a seven per cent market share.
“This interest has been driven largely by the quality of life on offer for an applicant’s dependents, with outstanding schools one of the driving factors for many,” the director continued.
“Despite an overall drop in UK Tier 1 activity as a result of the pandemic, we expect this interest to grow as travel restrictions start to lift and we return to a greater sense of normality.”