This petition was submitted during the 2017–2019 Conservative government

Petition British National (Overseas) Citizens should be given full British Citizenship.

People in Hong Kong who hold the British National (Overseas) passport are British; however, the British government is refusing and avoiding giving these Hong Kongers the

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The Chinese government is ignoring the Sino Anglo Agreements signed in 1981. It could be a disaster if we keep ignoring this is happening. Hong Kongers will come in as political refugees. We will need a lot of effort to house them and bad for the British reputations to the International community then.

This petition is closed This petition ran for 6 months

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The Petitions Committee decided not to debate this petition

The Committee decided not to schedule a debate on this petition because it has recently been the subject of a separate debate in the House of Commons.

You can read the debate here:

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Government responded

This response was given on 24 September 2019

There are no plans to amend the law in this respect.

Read the response in full

Only British citizens and certain Commonwealth citizens have the right of abode in the United Kingdom. British Nationals (Overseas) (BN(O)s) are eligible to travel to the United Kingdom visa-free, for a visit of up to six months. In regard to any extended stay, BN(O)s are not treated any differently to those of any other nationality when it comes to entry to the United Kingdom through study, economic or family routes. BN(O)s can settle in the United Kingdom, if they qualify under the Immigration Rules. They can hold a British passport and are entitled to consular protection when living or travelling outside of the UK, China, Hong Kong or the Macao Special Administrative Regions.

The only way that we could give a right of abode to BN(O)s would be by granting British citizenship. Ministers do not have discretion to do that outside of legislation, and there are no plans to amend the law to that effect.

In his 2007 Review of Citizenship, Lord Goldsmith recognised that to automatically give BN(O)s full British citizenship would be a breach of the commitments made between China and the UK in the 1984 Joint Declaration on the future of Hong Kong, and that to secure Chinese agreement to vary the terms of that treaty would not be possible.

However, BN(O)s can be registered as British citizens in certain circumstances:

a) If a person lives in the United Kingdom for a period of five years, and meets the specified residence requirements, they can apply for registration under section 4(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981. Those applying under this section are not required to demonstrate the knowledge of English and knowledge of life in the United Kingdom requirements, and so are not required to pass the Life in the UK test or have an English language qualification in the same way as those applying for naturalisation.

b) The British Nationality Hong Kong Act 1997 also provides for the registration of British nationals who would otherwise be stateless and are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong.

c) BN(O)s can also apply for registration under section 4B of the 1981 Act if they do not have another citizenship or nationality.

Further information can be found on the Gov.UK website:

The UK has a proud record of providing protection for people who need it, for as long as it is needed, in accordance with our obligations under the Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights. However, there is no provision within our Immigration Rules for someone to be allowed to travel to the UK to seek asylum or temporary refuge.

Home Office.