Nearly 5,000 Hong Kong residents have applied for visas to live, work and study in the United Kingdom since changes that make it easier for SAR residents to be granted entry, The Times newspaper reported.
Britain changed its visa application programme in late January, allowing Hong Kong residents who hold a British National Overseas (BNO) passport to live in the UK for five years and eventually apply for citizenship.
Britain made the visa changes after Beijing's imposition of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong last year.
The central and SAR governments said they would no longer recognise the BNO passport as a valid travel document from January 31.
About half of the 5,000 applications received were from Hongkongers who were already in Britain, The Times reported, citing sources. Those people had already been offered temporary settlement in the UK since the security law was introduced in July.
People who stay for the full five years can apply for indefinite leave to remain in Britain. A year later, they will be able to apply for citizenship.
Applicants will have to pay fees and the cost of health coverage. They'll also have to show that they can support themselves and their families.
The UK government has forecast the new visa could attract more than 300,000 people and their dependents to Britain. Beijing said it would make them second-class citizens. (Reuters/RTHK)