The number of Hong Kong people planning or dreaming to immigrate to the UK is never small. However, in the past, due to the strict immigration policy and the insane amount of money for the investment visa, quite some people have just left it as a dream. With the new immigration program, “Innovator Visa” introduced in 2019, the amount of minimum investment has dropped to 50,000 pounds, which is only 2.5% of the amount for the investment visa.
Nonetheless, apart from the cost, there are much more perspectives that need to be considered. Six key factors have been listed out as follows:
For people who have spent their lives in Hong Kong should be familiar with the UK education system. Before DSE, the education system in Hong Kong was the same as the British one, with 5-year secondary school, 2-year preparatory school, and 3-year university. Without doubt, British schools are internationally renowned, with four of the top 10 universities in the world being British universities. British education is known for its long history, strict standards and high quality, and has cultivated nearly 100 Nobel Laureates. According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2014-2015, the UK ranks second in regard to the number of top 100 universities.
For such high-quality education, tuition fees do definitely not come cheap. A rough estimate can show that it will cost around 30 to 40 million pounds for overseas students studying from the first grade in secondary school to university graduation. In fact, this amount of money is enough for you to immigrate to the United Kingdom via the innovator visa. On the other hand, if you are a British citizen or a certain visa holder, education is almost free.
In terms of graduation, it is inevitably harder for overseas students to find a job in the UK for two main reasons:
But if you become a local, the two reasons are eliminated.
Healthcare in the UK has reached world-class standards in terms of institutional, technical and service levels. Britain's for-everyone free health service is called the “National Health Service”. Seeing doctor and medicine are free of charge. The only thing that needs to be paid is the prescription fee which is about 6-7 pounds.
But remember to make an appointment before you see a doctor. If it is not an emergency, there is a high chance to wait for 1-2 weeks for an appointment.
According to government regulations, you must pay 30 years of the National Insurance to claim the retirement pension. However, if your income is lower than the minimum requirement for national insurance, or you are unemployed, the government will pay for your National Insurance contribution. If you pay less than 30 years of national insurance, you will receive less pension, calculated on a full pension of 1/30 for every year you pay. You can choose to pay voluntarily to the National Insurance to fill the missing years, so you will need to calculate whether it is cost-effective to do so.
The UK is not far from "full employment" with the unemployment rate of 3.8%. According to the figure in August 2019, the unemployment rate has been dropping since 2012. In 2018, the International Monetary Fund's indicated that the UK's GDP per capita is $42,558, ranking the 21st in the world. The service industry is the backbone of the British economy.
The income tax will be collected when an individual’s annual income exceeds 12,500 pounds. The tax rate will be 20% for annual income ranging between 12,500 and 50,000 pounds, 40% for 50,000 to 150,000 pounds, and 45% for more than 150,000 pounds.
It is commonly believed that the cost of living in the UK is much higher than in Hong Kong. In some aspects, it is true. Take London as an example. Restaurants, bottle water, transportations, and utilities cost more than in Hong Kong, yet for some grocery, including meat, milk, bread, and gasoline, properties are cheaper. Moreover, if you are living in countryside, the cost can be further decreased. For a household of four family members, the monthly expenses can be as low as around HKD 8000, including food, clothing, transportation, etc.