Hong Kong

Applications for British National (Overseas) Passports reach Record Numbers in 2019

There has reportedly been a significant increase in the number of renewals of and applications for the British National (Overseas) passport, with applications said to have increased eightfold from 2018 figures.

The surge in applications is said to not be a consequence of the passing of the national security law, which was passed end-June 2019. Instead, the applications reportedly continued throughout the first half of 2020, as reported by the South China Morning Post, with evidence pointing to the fact that it was fuelled by the fear of unrest and further legislation.

Those who have successfully obtained the document are liable to capitalising on the recent amendment to British legislation which means that British National (Overseas) passport holders will be exempt from income tests during their five-year stay in the United Kingdom.

In July 2020, Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, announced that millions of British National (Overseas) passport holders would ben able to resettle in Britain and be offered a path to citizenship following the passing of the National Security Law on June 30.

According to data obtained by The Post, gained via a British government Freedom of Information Request, revealed that the total number of British National (Overseas) passports issued increased to 154,218, which marks an eight-fold increase from the figures recorded in 2018.

The number of applications to renew existing passports also increased significantly in the same period to 119,892, from 14,297 in 2018.

From the end of June of this year, there have reportedly been 32,813 renewals, marking the second largest number of renewals since 2006, and should the pace maintain, the number of renewals for the 12-month period should reach record levels, an eventuality made even more likely by the fact that the majority of applications are yet to be processed.

Speaking on the figures, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a Non-official Member of the Executive Council, said: “There have been various crises and jitters, crises of confidence from Hong Kong in the past 40 to 50 years, this is not new. People could be planning for different reasons, might be worried about erosion of freedom, but there are plenty who dislike the violence and unrest. You can’t draw a conclusion.”

A Democratic Party district councillor said: “Democracy activists and supporters might have applied for renewal as an insurance policy and a fallback option if life in the city no longer works out for them.”

“But equally, many people in the pro-establishment camp are worried about the economic repercussions of the protests and possible sanctions by the United States, and may want to start a better life afresh elsewhere,” they continued.