Unlock Ireland

BNO visa not the panacea for Hong Kong?

Beijing may re-interpret Basic Law, forcing BNO passport holders to choose between Chinese and UK nationality

It is estimated that there are over three million Hongkongers with British National Overseas (BNO) status; the BNO visa system allows holders and their dependents the right to stay in the UK, including the right to work and study for five years and a path to full citizenship.

The planned BNO visa scheme is due to commence on 31 January, 2021. This new programme is significant in that it will allow those with colonial-era British National Overseas (BNO) status to obtain visas and pursue a path to citizenship in the UK.

A survey carried out by Hongkongers in Britain finds more than 600,000 Hong Kong nationals may want to move to Britain, many within two years of the January start date.

Photo of Hong Kong SAR and United Kingdom Passports

Loss of Citizenship?

China has slammed Britain’s interference over Hong Kong and its offer of access to visas and citizenship for its residents. Pro-Beijing newspapers and academies are urging that British National Overseas (BNO) passport holders who become British citizens should be stripped of their Chinese nationality and Hong Kong permanent residency status.

According to Article 9 of China’s Nationality Law, “any Chinese national who has settled abroad and who has been naturalized as a foreign national or has acquired foreign nationality of his own free will shall automatically lose Chinese nationality.”

If Beijing strictly enforced this Nationality Law, people could lose their Chinese nationality and Hong Kong permanent residency after they were granted British citizenship.

Accordingly, Hong Kong citizens face a considerable dilemma in pursuing the BNO route whereby they might forfeit their nationality and right to live in Hong Kong in the process.

Is there an alternative option?

For Hong Kong citizens that are either concerned about the possible consequences of pursuing the BNO route, or the impact of Brexit on the British economy, or even that they just don’t qualify as having BNO status, there is another, less onerous, option available for High Net Worth individuals. Investors must be able to demonstrate they have a minimum net worth of €2m.

Ireland’s Immigration Immigration Investment Programme (IIP) offers successful applicants and their nominated family members the option of continuous residence in Ireland under “Stamp 4” conditions for five years. Stamp 4 conditions permit foreign nationals to work, study or to start their own business in Ireland.

The flexibility of Ireland’s IIP is one of its key advantages, whereby successful applicants can have a “Plan B” option available to them that doesn’t require them to move to Ireland or risk of forfeiting their passport. They also get to invest in the Irish economy and can achieve excellent returns. To learn more, take a look at the IIP investment option

Applicant’s only have to spend 1 day per calendar year in Ireland and investors in the programme can choose to have their children educated in Ireland. This compares favourably against the BNO requirement of residing in the UK for a minimum six months per year.

For investors who may ultimately decide to move to Ireland permanently and obtain an Irish passport, the IIP also facilitates a path to citizenship through naturalisation, where investors are required to be physically resident for 5 years.

To find out more why Ireland is chosen for foreign direct investment, start by reading our article The 4 main reasons Ireland is chosen for foreign direct investment.