The UK Government has announced that up to 3 million Hong Kong residents who have British National (Overseas) (“BNO”) passports will be given a path to British citizenship amid the continuing arbitrary legislation from China against Hong Kong residents. Our Immigration Solicitors in London specialise in British citizenship applications and the British Nationality Act 1981 (“BNA”) and are closely following updates and announcements from the Home Office and Government with respect to this proposed new route to citizenship for Hong Kong BNO passport holders. We are happy to arrange a consultation in order to discuss any cases for Naturalisation as a British citizen.
What is the UK’s relationship with Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is a former British colony and therefore under British control or 156 years. However, in 1884 Margaret Thatcher who was British Prime Minister at the time, signed a declaration with China which was set to last 50 years (until 2047) agreeing that in 1997 Hong Kong would be handed back to China. This was on the condition that Hong Kong’s resident’s freedoms would be protected and that Hong Kong could continue with its capitalist system and not be ruled as a communist country like China and Hong Kong would maintain its own judicial system.
What is the current situation between Hong Kong and China?
Tensions between China and the UK have been rising for quite some time, and unfortunately it is Hong Kong residents who are being affected. Beijing recently passed as a new law, which has been condemned internationally, which is seen as a crackdown on the basic freedoms and rights of Hong Kong residents. From 2019 to date, mass protests have been occurring in Hong Kong against China’s attitudes towards Hong Kong residents, which has been widely publicised in the media.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has recently said that China’s new Hong Kong security law was a “clear and serious breach” of the declaration. Thus, Britain has responded by proposing a new route to British citizenship for Honk Kong BNO passport holders, with the condemnation of the Chinese Government.
What is the UK Government’s announcement in relation to British citizenship for Hong Kong Nationals?
In light of the ongoing hostility from China towards Hong Kong residents and the UK’s history with Hong Kong, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab confirmed in a statement to Parliament earlier this month that the UK would be offering a route to citizenship for Hong Kong BNO passport holders. The Foreign Secretary said:
“We will not look the other way on Hong Kong, and we will not duck our historic responsibilities to its people. We will honour our commitment to change the arrangements for those holding BN(O) status and continue to stand up for the people of Hong Kong.”
Home Secretary, Priti Patel, added:
China’s decision to impose national security legislation on Hong Kong is deeply regrettable. Now China have imposed this law we will launch a new immigration route for British Nationals (Overseas) and their families…The UK has a historic and moral obligation to British Nationals (Overseas) in Hong Kong and we will honour our commitment to them.”
What does this mean for Hong Kong BNO passport holders?
The proposed ‘bespoke immigration route’ should allow eligible BNO citizens to apply for a 5-year visa permitting them to live, work and study in the UK; similar to the UK Ancestry Visa. Within 28 days of the expiry of that leave, they may then be eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain (also referred to as permanent residence or settlement) which would mean they would be free from the immigration restrictions previously imposed on them (i.e. no recourse to public funds). As with other immigration routes, once an Applicant has held indefinite leave to remain for 12 months, they can then apply for British citizenship. This is excellent news for Hong Kong BNO passport holders as a 5 year route to settlement can potentially then mean getting a full British passport in 6 years.
There have been no changes made to the Immigration Rules as of yet however it is likely a Statement of Changes will announce this route and its requirements in due course.
What is a BNO passport?
Hong Kong citizens born before January 1997 were eligible for a BNO passport due to its history with Britain and the agreement mentioned above. Having a BNO passport allows holders to get consular assistance and protection from UK diplomatic posts. Holding a BNO passport does not give the same rights as a British citizen however; they are only permitted to be in the UK for up to 6 months and subject to immigration control.
Using our Immigration Solicitors in London to submit an application from Hong Kong
Legal representatives, such as our specialist immigration and visa law firm, are qualified to advise you on immigration law and your immigration status. It is possible to instruct an immigration and visa legal representative to submit an UK immigration application
Caseworkers at the Home Office are trained to reject applications which are improperly prepared, for example by failing to provide the correct supporting evidence. In order to ensure your Naturalisation Application succeeds, all necessary documents must be provided.
This can be a significant administrative task and you will need to submit the correct documentary evidence. The UK Immigration Rules are complex and a legal representative can help ensure that your application meets the Immigration Rules.
Successful applications from Hong Kong Nationals with our Immigration Solicitors in London
Our team of solicitors and barristers are specialist immigration lawyers who act in your best interest. We offer a client-tailored approach from the outset. From the very first meeting, we will be able to advise you in respect of your immigration status and the merit of your Naturalisation Application before your matter even reaches the Home Office UK Visa & Immigration department. We can assist you with the preparation and submission of your UK Visas and Immigration application and ensure that you meet all the requirements of the relevant rules.
We are based in the legal epicentre of London, just across the road from the Royal Courts of Justice in order to ensure we get the best results for our clients. LEXVISA is just minutes away from the Immigration and Asylum Tribunal, the Royal Courts of Justice and other central London courts.
Preparation is the key to a successful application. Our UK immigration and visa solicitors are here to guide you through the complex immigration rules and requirements. If you wish to meet one of our lawyers, please call our Immigration Team so we can assess your case and arrange your legal consultation.
Contact our London immigration solicitors on 02071830570 or complete our contact form.