Globally Speaking News | February 23, 2022

Flight to freedom?

Rewind to March 2020 and the whole world was gripped by the Covid pandemic; countries closed their borders in their droves, desperate to contain the spread of this deadly virus and the world pivoted online. We were all in it together.

As countries began to open up and vaccine roll-out commenced, the ongoing response to the pandemic began to vary from country to country. Following the roll-out of booster jabs the UK has taken a bullish approach to opening up, not only domestically but internationally, relaxing the need to quarantine and test upon arrival into the UK.

The UK is now back open for business which is greatly appealing for our internationally mobile clients, and although Covid case numbers continue to run high in comparison to other countries, the UK government have taken the view that these are manageable. This approach has not been adopted by all countries though, notably Hong Kong and mainland China, who continue to require lengthy quarantine measures for people arriving from overseas, in order to keep Covid cases to a minimum, and with no end to these restrictions in sight.

It has recently been reported in the media that these restrictions are causing expats in Hong Kong and mainland China to relocate to other jurisdictions where restrictions are less strict: Singapore and the UK cited as examples. From our experience we have continued to see a continuous flow of new enquiries from individuals from the region who are looking to relocate to the UK. The flight to travel freedom is not the governing reason; often clients are motivated to move to the UK to school their children.

In one recent case we have been working on, a Hong Kong individual who has been resident in the UK whilst their child has been attending school here found themselves in a perilous position where they were unable to extend their stay in the UK but their travel back to Hong Kong was blocked due to Hong Kong’s ongoing travel restrictions. Fortunately, we were able to secure their right to remain in the UK for several more months under the UK’s temporary immigration arrangements due to the pandemic. The UK now has very open borders on Covid, but continues to provide limited emergency immigration rules for overseas nationals who cannot return to their home country as a result of local Covid measures.