In June the Prime Minister announced that if the Hong Kong authorities were to pass the new security laws British National (Overseas) – BNO – passport holders would be granted entry to the UK on a route that would lead to full citizenship after 6 years of residence.
BNO status was granted to all Hong Kong residents born before 1 July 1997 which marked the end of 156 years of British colonial rule of the territory. It is an example of “other sorts of Britishness”, all of which are second class when compared with British citizenship. Up till now, a BNO does not currently have the right to live or work in Britain.
The June announcement attracted some criticism in that many residents of Hong Kong wanted the UK government to bring pressure on Bejing not to introduce the new security laws. Although the UK government amongst others in the West has been raising concerns with a view to a change of policy, this has not been successful. The Prime Minister is now fulfilling the promise to allow the 350,000 people in Hong Kong who already have a BNO passport a pathway to full British citizenship. Potentially there are 2.6 million others who are eligible. Under the new route, BNO passport holders would be granted 5 years leave to enter, with the possibility of applying for full British citizenship after a further 12 months.