Simplified Immigration Process Announced for British National (Overseas) Status Holders

July 7, 2020 | United Kingdom

In response to the National Security Legislation in Hong Kong, the Government of the U.K. is creating a new, simplified immigration process for individuals with British National (Overseas) status. The details of the application process have not yet been announced.

British National (Overseas) status, or BN(O), is a type of British nationality that was established in 1997 before the U.K. handed Hong Kong over to China. Approximately three million individuals in Hong Kong currently have BN(O) status. About three million additional residents of Hong Kong are eligible for BN(O) status and, in turn, for the new U.K. immigration process.

Through the new process, individuals with BN(O) status can apply to work, live, and study in the U.K. for five years initially. They can also sponsor dependents. Currently, BN(O) status holders can enter the U.K. for only six months and they cannot work or study. The new process will also expand citizenship rights for applicants. Currently, individuals with BN(O) status can receive a British passport, but they do not have full U.K. citizenship rights. The new process will allow BN(O) status holders to qualify for permanent residency after five years and to apply for citizenship after another year. Overall, under the new process, BN(O) status holders will benefit from a streamlined application process, expanded rights, and an expedited path to citizenship.