UK to extend residence rights for BN(O)citizens in Hong Kong

On 1 July 2020, the UK government announced that new arrangements will be put in place for British National (Overseas) citizens. This follows China’s implementation of a new national security law in Hong Kong.

According to the Home Office, as of 24 February 2020, there are 349,881 holders of BN(O) passports, and an estimated 2.9 million BN(O) citizens currently reside in Hong Kong.

The new Immigration Rules will grant BN(O) citizens 5 years limited leave to remain, with the right to live and work in the UK. After the 5-year period, they will be eligible to apply for Settled Status. Having held Settled Status for a period of 12 months, they can then apply for British citizenship. We are expecting the Home Office to publish further information on this in due course.

Currently, a BNO passport holder can visit the UK for up to 6 months without applying for a Standard Visitor visa. However, BNO status does not include the right of abode or work in the UK. Therefore, under the current rules, BNO holders do not have an automatic right to live or work in the UK, and are subject to immigration controls like all other non-EU citizens.

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