LONDON (Reuters) – Britain confirmed details of its route to citizenship for almost three million people in its former colony Hong Kong, saying in a statement that there would be no quota on numbers and that a five-year visa would cost 250 pounds ($330) per person.
Britain made the offer to those with British National (Overseas) status and their dependents in July, after declaring that China had broken the terms of a 1984 handover treaty by imposing a new security law.
An economic impact assessment said there could be as many as 1 million visa applications from BN(O) status holders between 2021-2025, with as many as 500,000 in the first year alone, although it is expected that the actual numbers will be far lower.
It also suggested the influx would provide a boost to the economy of between 2.4 to 2.9 billion pounds.
The offer is open to BN(O)s who are usually resident in Hong Kong, the British government said in a statement, adding that it would provide a clear pathway to be granted British citizenship. The visa will be open for applications from Jan. 31 next year.
After Britain made the offer, China threatened to withdraw its recognition of BN(O) passports held by Hong Kong residents.
China does not recognise such passports as a valid document for mainland entry by residents of Hong Kong, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997. Instead, it requires them to use travel permits issued by China.
BN(O) status was brought in under a 1987 British law that specifically relates to Hong Kong. The government estimates there are around 2.9 million BN(O)s currently in Hong Kong.