Hong Kong BNO scheme: What now?

People in Hong Kong are leaving the country on the UK’s British National Overseas (BNO) passport scheme, due to a crackdown on democracy.

The one country, two systems principle put in place when Hong Kong was returned to China by the UK, has been severely eroded in recent years.

In 2019, widespread protests broke out in Hong Kong over the infamous extradition bill, with up to two million people taking to the streets to protest, just under a third of the population (7.5 million).

The bill was withdrawn in September 2019 due to the mass national and international backlash, but in June 2020 China succeeded in clamping down on future protests, passing a new security law for Hong Kong to make it easier to punish protesters.

In the wake of the crackdown on dissent, the UK opened up the BNO scheme in January 2021.

The take-up for the scheme is strong; 89,200 people have applied to come and live and work in the UK from January to the end of September.

With almost 2.9 million BNOs, and a further 2.5 million family dependents eligible for the scheme, it is expected that many more will relocate to the UK in the coming years.

Almost one year on from the launch of the BNO visa scheme, Chris Lomas explores what happens next for the thousands of people set for a new life in Great Britain.