The prime minister, Boris Johnson, has announced the move in response to new national security legislation imposed on the territory by China. Speaking during PMQs today, Boris said the legislation “constitutes a clear and serious breach of the Sino-British joint declaration”.
It had been made clear by the UK Government that if China continued down this path the UK would introduce a new route for those with British national overseas status to enter the UK granting them limited leave to remain with the ability to live and work in the UK and thereafter to apply for citizenship.
The UK handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997. Anyone born in the territory before then is eligible for a British National (Overseas) passport – or BNO.The “bespoke” new arrangement is to be implemented in the coming months and would grant BNOs five years’ limited leave to remain in the UK.
They would then be eligible to apply for settled status and would be able to apply for citizenship after 12 months with that status.There would be no quotas on numbers. As of February, there were nearly 350,000 BNO passport holders, while the Government estimates there are around 2.9 million BNOs living in Hong Kong.
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This reflects the law at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought as appropriate in relation to a particular matter.