Hong Kong

Following political repression in the region, the UK Government has opened a new visa route for British Nationals (Overseas) (BNO) resident in Hong Kong to come to the UK. There are believed to be as many as three million BNOs who are eligible, with their dependents, to come to the UK. Significant numbers are therefore anticipated. This briefing sets out the background to the new route, and potential implications for migration into Scotland’s local authority areas.  Further information can be found in the sub-pages to the left.

Are you a BN(O) migrant? Click here to access the Welcome Hub

Are you a council officer working with BN(O) migrants? Click here to access our guidance for Local Authorities


Policy background 

Having been a British colony for 99 years, Hong Kong was handed back to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. This took place under the terms of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which set out the special sovereign and administrative arrangement of Hong Kong after 1 July 1997 and implemented a ’one country, 2 systems’ policy. This protected the rights of citizens of Hong Kong vis-à-vis democratic and political rights.  

Prior to handover, the UK government introduced a new type of British nationality for Hong Kong residents, known as British National (Overseas) status. This was created primarily in order that those who wished to could maintain a link with the UK. The status is only available to those who were resident in Hong Kong prior to handover, and it cannot be inherited by children. Until this year, the status afforded few privileges; for example, holders had no special rights to enter or settle in Britain.  

Following the introduction of the Hong Kong national security law, actions by the Chinese government and repressive tactics, the British government raised concerns regarding the ‘clear and serious’ breach of international law of restrictions on the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.  

The Government has announced that, effective from 31 January 2021, the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa will come into operation. The Visa will be open to those with BNO status from Hong Kong, and will entitle them to enter the UK for a period of 30 months, with the option to extend this for a further 30 months or 5 years.  

You can find the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa leaflet here.


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