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Hong Kong Applications for BNO Visa Jumped During Covid Outbreak

  • Overall applications fell 57% year-on-year after initial rush
  • UK began citizenship pathway in Jan. 2021 amid China crackdown
A copy of the British National (Overseas) passport, right, with Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) passport.
A copy of the British National (Overseas) passport, right, with Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) passport.Photographer: Paul Yeung/Bloomberg

A visa program that offers Hong Kongers a pathway to UK citizenship saw its first quarter-on-quarter jump earlier this year, as the omicron variant of the coronavirus tore through the Asian city, killing thousands.

The number of applicants for the British National (Overseas) program between January and March jumped 25% from the previous three months, to 19,500. Chief Executive Carrie Lam implemented some of the city’s most stringent social distancing measures of the pandemic during this period and threatened to mass test all residents, with anyone infected facing isolation in government camps.