The UK officials unveiled the British Overseas Nationals BN(O) programme about a month ago. Ever since, there have been controversial opinions of this initiative and of who would benefit from it.

First off, it’s different from the British Overseas Territories Citizens (BOTCs) programme. In the case of BOTs, the UK was enforcing its anti-money laundering practices. Ultimately, the citizens of the territories in question – Anguilla, Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Monserrat and Turks & Caicos – would be granted full-scale British citizenship and the mobility rights that it entails.

That said, unlike Hongkongers, BOT citizens were scattered around various locations and were unlikely to undertake massive migration to the UK. With Hong Kong, the UK could expect a great influx of applicants, which would definitely impact the UK economy.

Having that in mind, the UK government only offered residency to Hong Kong BN(O)s. This also comes with strict physical presence requirements should Hongkongers wish to remain in the country after five years of residence.

To apply for UK citizenship, one has to secure a minimum of five years under the Leave to Remain and a minimum of one year of Indefinite Leave to Remain. Adding at least half a year for paperwork processing, we are left with at least 6.5 years required for Hongkongers to obtain their UK citizenship.

China, on the other hand, threatens to refuse HK BN(O) visa holders entrance to Mainland China – and Hong Kong!

BN(O) might be a way out for the young who see no future in Hong Kong, yet an average mid-aged citizen could have too many bridges to burn. From a businessperson’s perspective, the costs of physical residence in the UK, the UK taxes and jeopardised connections with Hong Kong and China would be serious showstoppers.

At Astons, we are happy to help Hong Kong nationals consider various citizenship and residency options that may turn out more lucrative than the UK’s offer. Contact us any time for a consultation!

Astons is a leading global immigration advisory firm with offices in London, Beijing, Moscow, Dubai and Limassol (Republic of Cyprus) and offers residency & citizenship investment solutions worldwide including the UK, Turkey, Vanuatu, the EU and the Caribbean

For further information or to discuss your personal circumstances in a private consultation, please contact Astons at or call +44 207 292 2977.