What are the British overseas territories?
There are a total of 14 British overseas territories, formerly known as British dependent territories. There are: Bermuda, Gibraltar, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the Falkland Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Anguilla, British Indian Ocean Territory, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory, St Helena and its dependencies (Ascension and Tristan de Cunha, Montserrat, the Pitcairn Group of Islands, and the Sovereign Base Areas on Cyprus.
These territories have a constitutional link with the UK and are under its formal control but they do not form part of the UK. They are self-governing and have separate jurisdictions but rely on the UK for matters such as foreign policy or defence.
What is the difference between British Overseas Territories Citizens and British citizens?
British citizens do not need permission to enter the UK and they can live and work there with no immigration restrictions. They can also leave the country and reenter it as many times as they want for as long as they want without having to worry about losing their status. You can become a British citizen either by birth or, if you have lived in the UK for a certain qualifying period of time, you can apply for naturalisation. To be eligible to become a British citizen, however, you need to meet a number of British citizenship requirements.
A British overseas citizen can hold a British passport and get protection from UK diplomatic posts. At the same time, if they are not a British citizen too, they are subject to immigration controls. That means that British overseas citizens cannot freely live and work in the UK. Moreover, they are not considered to be British nationals. Individuals who are born to or adopted by parents who are legally settled in a British overseas territory become its citizens. You can also acquire British overseas territories citizenship by naturalisation.
Keep in mind that those who are British citizens do not automatically receive British overseas territories citizenship.
Can British citizens live in British overseas territories?
If you are a British citizen and you would like to move to one of the British overseas territories, you will have to apply for a visa. As a British citizen, you have to go through all the immigration procedures that other foreign nationals go through before immigrating to these territories.
Each of the British overseas territories maintains its own rules regarding visa policies so before you make a decision to move to one of them, make sure to check country-specific information. There are various visas that you can apply for depending on the purpose of your visit and the planned duration of your stay.
If you want to live in one of the British overseas territories, you will have to apply for an immigrant permit. To qualify for it, you will have to meet the eligibility requirements. After you have lived in a British overseas territory for a certain qualifying period of time, you might be able to submit the application to become a British Overseas Territories Citizen by naturalisation.
Who are British Nationals (Overseas)?
The British National (Overseas) is a type of British nationality associated with Hong Kong, which used to be a British colony. This type of British citizenship was created in 1985 and people in Hong Kong could apply for it before the 1997 handover to China to stay connected to the UK. Those who have the status of British Nationals (Overseas) are British nationals but not British citizens. Until January 2021, this status only meant that they could visit the UK for six months without having to apply for a visa.
In January 2021, the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa was introduced. It is a new UK visa available to people from Hong Kong with British National Overseas status.
Now, all Hong Kong British National Overseas citizens who are 18 years old or older can apply for this visa. Successful applicants can come to the UK to live, study and work in the UK. They are also able to bring their dependents with them. After living in the country for five years, they can apply for settled status. Then, after spending one more year in the UK on this status, they can submit the application for British citizenship.
Can British citizens live in Hong Kong?
When Hong Kong was a British colony, British citizens who wanted to live and work there were not subject to immigration and visa restrictions. Many UK citizens wonder if they can move there now but unfortunately, the rules have changed after the handover.
Now, British citizens can visit Hong Kong for tourism purposes and stay there for up to 180 without a visa. If you want to stay there permanently and work or study, however, you have to apply for a visa.
As a British citizen, you can certainly move to Hong Kong and live there but you have to meet the eligibility criteria and go through an immigration process just like citizens of other foreign countries.
How can IAS help?
Here at IAS, our immigration lawyers offer the highest quality services to clients who require assistance with various immigration issues. Our lawyers can offer you professional advice on your options to move to a British overseas territory or to Hong Kong. They will explain to you whether as a British citizen you need to apply for a visa before going there.
No matter your query, we can provide support to you and your family. We will be around to answer all your questions and you will have access to offer you professional help during each stage of the immigration process.
Find out more about how our lawyers can help by calling 0333 305 9375.
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