Hong Kong BN(0)s: 12 month stay and pathway to British citizenship

Here is the government’s position on BNO passport holders getting full British citizenship:

“China’s National People’s Congress has formally announced its decision to impose a national security law on the people of Hong Kong … if China goes down this path and implements this national security legislation we will be required to change the status of BN(O) passport holders and set in train arrangements which allow them to come to the UK for longer than the current six month period and to apply for extendable periods of 12 months to work and study, which itself will provide a pathway to citizenship.”

As of 24th February 2020, there was 349,881 holders of BN(O) passports and there are also around 2.9m people in Hong Kong eligible for the passport.

The British National (Overseas) passport, commonly referred to as the BN(O) passport, is a British passport for persons with British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status. The passport was first issued in 1987 after the Hong Kong Act 1985, from which this new class of British nationality was created. Holders of BN(O) passports are permanent residents of Hong Kong who were British Dependent Territories citizens until 30 June 1997 and had registered as BN(O)s.

The British National (Overseas) status itself does not automatically grant the right of abode anywhere (including the United Kingdom and Hong Kong). However, all BN(O)s possess the right of abode or right to land in Hong Kong by virtue of their previous British Dependent Territories Citizen status with connection to British Hong Kong.

Hi in this video we’re going to go over the latest status announcement and the government announcements regarding British nationals overseas so let me just show you this diagram so I’m going to go through this diagram and explain what is proposed under the potential new pathway to British citizenship and I’m also going to go over and a historical time frame just to explain what the difference would be from the current position so the government’s announcement is here it says that this is from Domenic rub that the China’s National People’s Congress has formally announced his decision to impose a national security law on the people of Hong Kong if China goes down this path and implements this national security legislation we will be required to change the status of no passport holders and set in train arrangements which allow them to come to the UK for longer than the current six-month period and to apply for extendable periods of 12 months to work and study which itself will provide a pathway to citizenship so this is a major development and represents a would represent if implemented a big change to the current position and I’ll just explain the process in this diagram now let’s just go to the historical position first which I’ve set out in this infographic now the just to start at the beginning the British Nationality Act 1981 came into force on the 1st of January 1981 and made residents of Hong Kong British dependent territories citizens this gave them a right to live in Hong Kong but not any other British territory and Hong Kong residents automatically lost this status so status as British dependent territories citizens on the 1st of July 1997 and for this reason British national overseas citizen status was created in advance of that date so if we go to the timeline British national overseas status is a class of British nationality that was granted by voluntary registration too dependent to British dependent territories citizens who were residents before the transfer of sovereignty to China on the 1st of July 1997 so if you have the status you are a British national and Commonwealth citizen but not a British citizen and to just go back to the overall time frame I’ve just given an example here the kind of stamp that you would receive if you’re travelling to the UK so it would be leave to enter for six months employment and recourse to public funds prohibited that’s the sort of endorsement you get if you do have a stamp so British nationals overseas citizens can enter the UK as a visitor for up to six months without having to apply for a visa in advance but if you want to remain longer than that or for a purpose other than visiting then you need to apply for a different visa so you can register as a British citizen if you are a B and O but only if you’ve lived in the UK for a continuous period of five years and you’ve held indefinitely to remain for 12 months which I’m going to explain in greater detail so in terms of the position you know in the years leading up to now my clients from Hong Kong have applied for Tier one investor visas tier two work visas so represents the visas and innovative visas and although the latus pure more recent introduction and these are all pathways to indefinite leave to remain after which they can register as British citizens now the new I’ve just updated this diagram thanks for the comments of my last livestream I’m just corrected that to the most recent version of the British passport which is only very recently being been announced that a new design of it the new the new position has been announced which we’ll come to in a moment would allow a 12-month renewable periods which would give a pathway to British citizenship by registration through a new means of permission so a new visa than the ones that I’ve outlined that and it doesn’t I should highlight it doesn’t exist yet but is to be announced if China goes ahead as proposed which I imagine now is very likely from now this is all based on the British Nationality Act 1981 that means of registering and I think rather than going through going through the text I’ll show you the updated infographic so you can see here that you’re looking at a time period of six years up to registration as a British citizen and that’s by entitlement not discretion but you would need to plan your residency in the right way so just to zoom in on the current position at the moment you have your initial you know six months stay that you can get without applying for a visa this would be a twelve month I’m stay in year one and then renewable in year two five four year two and then it looks like it would be renewable each year one two three four and five and then at that point you would apply for an indefinite leave to remain and then you would register one year after that how the important thing about managing your residents and absences is that when you come to apply for citizenship you would need to ensure that you had no more than 450 days absent broadly so the equivalent of 90 days a year but certainly no more than 90 days in in the fifth year that’s a that’s a requirement but you need to bear in mind that you would need longer than that each year in order to get the indefinite leave to remain which is a prerequisite to registering for citizenship and for that you would need no more than 180 days absence per year so 185 days in in the UK rather than Hong Kong at a total of 900 days so bear that in mind when you’re planning your residence if you’re thinking about taking up this new route if or when is it confirmed there’s just some additional points that I wanted to highlight regarding the legislation I’ll take you to the British Nationality Act and then to the legislation so this is section 4 acquisition by registration so this section applies to any person who is a British National overseas relevant for our purposes a person to whom this section applies shall be entitled on an application for his registration as a British citizen to be registered as such a citizen if the following requirements are satisfied namely that he was in the United Kingdom as he or she of course he was in the United Kingdom at the beginning of the period of five years ending with the date of application and the number of days on which he was absent number of days on which was absent from the United Kingdom in that period does not exceed 450 now as I say the point to look out for here is although it’s 450 it’s actually 900 for the perp of indefinite leave to remain and then to the second requirement that the number of days on which was absent from the UK in the 12-month period does not exceed 90 days so to go back to the infographic you need to ensure that in year 6 there was no more than 90 days absence as that the purpose of this arrow here and that he was not at any time in a period of 12 months subject under the immigration laws to any restriction on the period for which he might remain in the United Kingdom and that that’s why you’ve got to have indefinite leave to remain before registering because you’ve got to show a 12-month period during which you were not subject to any restrictions and then the next requirement you would need to show that you have not any time in the period of five years ending in the United Kingdom in breach of the immigration laws so those the key points need the formal government guidance reflects these so it says so it sets out there–they requirements here I won’t repeat them but I just put them on the screen here for you and the key points regarding the residence requirements so the residence would ordinarily be demonstrated through passport Ravel documents and doctors letters on their own aren’t normally acceptable as proof of residence but if nothing is available and doctors can confirm they’ve seen you on a regular basis during the period then this would be accepted that’s the that’s the current guidance so these are the matters that you need to take into account if you’re planning this now these are of course very sensitive Matteson and difficult times I wanted to just highlight with some of the interesting legal issues around this and they’re all sort of practical consequence so this is just taken from hand sod and house Commons petition and subsequent debate but in his 2007 review of citizenship Lord Goldsmith recognized that to give be a nose for British citizenship automatically would be a breach of the commitments made between China and the UK in the 1984 joint declaration on the future of Hong Kong and that to secure Chinese agreement to vary the terms of that treaty would not be possible so there’s just no hope of that now it was highlighted at the time that bingos can be registered as British citizens in certain circumstances and it covers actually three different routes so the first one is the one that I’ve dealt with just now which is if a person lives in the UK for a period of five years and meet the specified residence requirements then they can apply for registration under section 42 of the British Nationality Act those applying under this section are not required to demonstrate knowledge of English that’s an important point and knowledge of life in the UK and so on not required to pass the life in the UK test or have a link language qualification in the same way as those applying for naturalization the next way is that out here so the British Nationality Hong Kong act 1997 also provides for registration of British nationals who would otherwise be stateless and are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong so that doesn’t apply to many people those worth bearing in mind and then be a nose can also apply for registration under Section 4b of the 1981 Act if they do not have another citizenship or nationality so this new proposed route would be a major development it is as I’ve said contingent on China going down this path and implementing the national security legislation but if it does then the UK government will set in train these arrangements I will be providing updates and more details on this thank you very much for your time bye for now