UK to Extend Residence Rights for British Nationals (Overseas) in Hong Kong

    View Author July 2020

    The UK government has issued a press release stating that new arrangements will be put in place for British Nationals (Overseas) (“BN(O)s”).

    At present, BN(O)s who wish to reside in the UK for longer than six months or to work are required to qualify under the Immigration Rules in the same way as any other non-EEA applicant, for example, through Tier 2 sponsorship or by applying to stay in the UK on the basis of their relationship with a British or EEA citizen.

    The UK government has said that a new immigration route will allow BN(O)s to apply to come to the UK without the current six month limit, granting them five years limited leave to remain, with the ability to live and work in the UK. After these five years, they will be able to apply for settled status and, after a further 12 months with that status, apply for citizenship.

    The Home Office has said that the new rules for BN(O)s will be implemented in the coming months, with the exact date and further details to be announced in due course.

    What is BN(O) status?

    • Someone who was a British overseas territories citizen by connection with Hong Kong was able to register as a BN(O) before 1 July 1997.
    • British overseas territories citizens from Hong Kong who did not register as a BN(O) and had no other nationality or citizenship on 30 June 1997 became British overseas citizens on 1 July 1997.
    • Those who do not already have BN(O) status, cannot now apply to obtain it.
    • The UK government has said that, as of 24 February 2020, there were 349,881 holders of BN(O) passports and estimates there are around 2.9m BN(O)s currently in Hong Kong.
    • More information on BN(O) status can be found on the government website.