Over the next five years, more than 300,000 Hong Kongers are expected to emigrate to the UK according to the British Home Office. But only a few of those leaving will be from the city’s 25,000 strong Nepali community.
Hong Kong is an appealing destination for Nepalis wanting to emigrate further abroad because the country’s association with the British Gurkha garrison here affords them better opportunities and privileges than other foreign workers in Hong Kong.
Thousands of British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders from Hong Kong have left for the UK fearing Chinese crackdowns, however most Nepalis are not leaving for that reason. Many families of ex-Gurkhas were already moving on to Britain even before the crackdowns, while others were already thinking of leaving to join family members.
The majority of Nepalis who came to Hong Kong were Gurkhas stationed here when the territory was still a British colony. After the handover in 1997, a law made Gurkhas and their families eligible for permanent residency. The majority of Nepalis in the city are the children and grandchildren of these servicemen from Nepal.