British Nationality Selection Scheme was a process
used to grant British
citizenship to selected persons in Hong Kong between 1990 and 1997.
Basis of the scheme
1(1) of the British Nationality
Kong) Act 1990 gave the Home Secretary the power to
register as British citizens up to 50,000 persons (heads of
families) recommended to him by the Governor of Hong
The spouses and minor children
of such persons were also entitled to registration under section
enacted to forestall the emigration of key persons from Hong Kong
in the run-up to the transfer of sovereignty to China on 30 June
In order to be eligible for registration under section 1(1) a
person was required to be settled in Hong Kong and:
- A British Dependent Territories Citizen (BDTC) by virtue of a
connection with Hong Kong, or an applicant for registration or
- A British National (Overseas), British Overseas citizen,
British subject, or British protected person
A spouse who married the family head after that person was
registered under s1(1) was required to be settled in Hong Kong on
the date of the marriage in order to be eligible for registration
under s1(4). Spouses and children were not subject to the
No person could be registered as a British citizen under the Act on
or after 1 July 1997.
The selection scheme ran in two phases in which applications for
s1(1) registration were possible:
- 1 December 1990 to 28 February 1991
- 3 January 1994 to 31 March 1994
The Governor of Hong Kong retained the power to invite applications
after that date. All applications from spouses and children for
registration under s1(4) were required to be made on or before 31
There were four distinct schemes:
- General Occupational Class (GOC), for managers and
- Entrepreneurs Class (EC), for businessmen and women
- Disciplined Services Class (DSC), for Hong Kong civil servants
in police, fire, immigration, custom, correctional services.
- Sensitive Service Class (SSC), for those in a public or private
sector role with particular vulnerabilities on account of their
Selection of persons in the GOC and DSC classes was primarily based
on a "points system".
held the citizenship of another country, excluding People's
Republic of China (see Home Return
Permit for details), were penalised in the points test,
although there was no specific bar to registration.
and children seeking registration under s1(4) were not restricted
in terms of what other nationality they could hold.
Consequences of Registration
A person acquiring British citizenship under section 1(1) of the
Act became a British citizen otherwise than by descent
as a result, children born subsequently in Hong Kong (or elsewhere
outside the United Kingdom) are generally entitled to British
citizenship by descent
Spouses and children registered under s1(4) of the Act acquired
British citizenship by descent
Any successful applicant who was a British Dependent Territories
citizen lost that status on acquisition of British citizenship.
Consequentially, British National (Overseas) status was also lost,
if it was held.
Successful applicants also became European citizens upon
registration as a British citizen.
A person acquiring British citizenship under the 1990 Act who
subsequently became a citizen of another country (such as
Australia) did not lose British citizenship.
According to the Nationality Law of the People's Republic of China
(PRC), the full British Citizenship obtained by Chinese nationals
in Hong Kong through the "British nationality Selection Scheme"
will not be recognized. These people are still Chinese nationals
and will not be entitled to British consular protection in the Hong
Kong Special Administrative Region and other parts of PRC.