What is the future of BNO passport and how can you complement it

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While the BNO visa remains one of the best options Hongkongers can take advantage of during trying times, the scheme remains riddled with loopholes and obstacles that they must navigate.

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Just a little more than one year ago, the UK Home Office extended an olive branch to Hongkongers dealing with the dispiriting unrest in the city. As protests persisted Beijing instated the National Security Law. As the situation became more hostile, the UK modified its British National Overseas (BNO) visa framework to allow Hongkongers to relocate to the UK to live, study, work, and escape the turmoil in their home. 

In the 14 months that followed the UK's announcement, over 100,000 Hongkongers have applied for the BNO visa, with many of them having already relocated to UK shores. 

However, while the BNO visa remains one of the best options Hongkongers can take advantage of during trying times, the scheme remains riddled with loopholes and obstacles that they must navigate.

Obstacles on the road to London

While many would relish the chance to relocate to the UK, not all Hong Kong residents may have given it much thought before the political instability slammed into the city's streets. 

Hong Kong remains one of the world's busiest economic hubs, offering a lifestyle rarely found outside the East Asian triumvirate of Singapore, Taiwan, and, of course, Hong Kong itself. Moving halfway across the globe to the colder - and culturally different - UK has proven to be a challenge to many, especially for those leaving stable jobs and seeking to rebuild on English soil. 

While the UK remains a highly attractive destination offering similar living costs to that of Hong Kong, the transition has not been as smooth as it can be.  

A survey conducted amongst newly arriving Hongkongers to the UK shows the lack of job opportunities in their new home is a major problem (9.9% of respondents), as well as the dreaded prospect of taking a de facto pay cut (8.1%).

Considering 65% of Hongkongers who moved to the UK through the BNO scheme operate in professional occupations, the apprehension of failing to maintain their living standard due to unemployment in a vastly different economic environment has been, at best, daunting. 

Nevertheless, the biggest hindrances Hongkongers are facing within the BNO are more procedural than one might expect. For example, 10.2% of Hongkongers on a BNO visa in the UK reported that they are facing problems proving their right to work, be it because of issues of their NI number or otherwise. But the biggest deterrent of the BNO does not affect most of those who have already relocated but those still considering doing so.

Under the current BNO legal framework, children born after July 1st, 1997 can only apply for the BNO visa if they are accompanying their parents who also applied. If their parents decide not to opt for the BNO, or if their parents are deceased, they cannot apply individually, leaving many young adults stranded in the calamitous situation in Hong Kong. 

An amendment to the law was proposed in November of 2021, but it was swiftly rejected, meaning young adult Hongkongers must continue to wait for the situation to resolve itself before they can individually apply for the BNO visa. 

However, the UK's BNO visa does remain one of the best options Hongkongers have, even with its glaring shortcomings, it acts as a crucial lifeboat, however, the final destination may not be the dreamland Hongkongers are hoping to find but the good news is that it isn't the only option. Through a shrewd investment, Hongkongers can perfectly complement their BNO visa with a residency in Europe, opening the doors to the entirety of Western Europe to them and their families. 

By combining a UK BNO visa and an EU residency permit, Hongkongers obtain unlimited opportunities, greater options, and, most crucially, greater freedom. 

The EU's doors remain open through Portugal's Golden Visa

Much like the BNO visa, the Portuguese golden visa is a residency scheme that leads to citizenship, albeit in five years rather than the six required in the UK. It is also more inclusive and extremely accessible for those able to make a qualified investment. 

The premise of the golden visa is simple, applicants with a clean criminal record who make an eligible investment can obtain a Portuguese residence permit for themselves, their spouse, and their dependent children (no matter their age). 

Applicants are also spoiled for choice, however, the most popular choices, with over 98% of all applications, have come under two investment options:

  • The acquisition of property, with the lowest investment threshold set at 280,000 EUR
  • Investing 500,000 EUR in approved investment funds

While property acquisition remains one of the most popular options  amongst investors,,  investment funds are gaining more traction as investors realize their massive potential. The number of applicants choosing the investment fund rose a staggering 946% between the years of 2019 and 2022.

It is no surprise investment funds are rising in popularity, as the simple investment process, seamless liquidation of the investment, and the absence of taxes corresponding to the investment make them a great option for those looking to obtain the golden visa while simultaneously making a passive, profitable investment.   

The process takes less than a year, but the true beauty of the golden visa is in the details, as some of its outstanding benefits include:

  • Passive residency, golden visa holders only need to spend seven days a year for five consecutive years to qualify for permanent residence or citizenship. This flexibility makes the Portuguese golden visa the optimal companion to the BNO visa, opening both worlds to Hongkongers looking for better options.
  • Robust backup passport, after five years, applicants can apply to become Portuguese citizens, obtaining one of the world’s best passports in the process. The Portuguese passport is the fifth strongest passport in the world, giving its holder visa-free access to 187 destinations worldwide including the EU, USA, Australia, and many more.
  • Opening the door to the EU, as Portuguese passport holders have the right to reside, work, and study anywhere in the EU as nationals of the Union, giving their holders unlimited opportunities and freedom. 
  • The ability to add their family members, golden visa applicants can add their family members at the start of the process or bring them along later through family reunification, providing the entire family with the benefits of holding a Portuguese passport or residency. 

A Hongkonger on a BNO can choose to purchase a property or invest in an investment fund in Portugal instead of the UK, for example, and obtain a second residency in Europe, gaining better business freedom, greater global mobility, and more security for themselves and their families. 

But one of the most crucial aspects is that Hongkongers born after the BNO cutoff date in 1997 don't have to worry about it when obtaining a golden visa, as it is only connected to the qualifying investment. This means even if their parents want to weather the storm in Hong Kong, the children are free to fulfill their potential within the vast borders of the EU. 

The golden visa, alongside Portugal's favorable Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) tax regime, also offers Hongkongers elevated tax options, especially considering that the UK levies higher taxes on average compared to what the population in Hong Kong is used to. 

Complete Harmony

While the BNO visa remains the most noticeable option for Hongkongers, the Portuguese golden visa is an exceptional complement to its UK counterpart, giving Hongkongers the flexibility, opportunities, and freedom they need to thrive. 

To know more about the Portuguese golden visa, contact us today or subscribe to receive the recording of our latest webinar.

Who are we ?

Optylon Krea is an investment management and real estate development company that caters to the needs of international Golden Visa investors, with €1.8 Billion managed to date from Portugal to Turkey.
We have been the first to explore the Golden Visa eligible fund route in 2018 and are currently leading that market segment with more than € 200M under our advisory.


Investors from more than 40 countries


million equity managed for Golden Visa eligible funds


active funds under advisory

We strongly believe that Portugal is shifting from a mass tourism destination to a luxury resort. That is why we are bringing momentum to the main cities by developing high street retail and prime serviced apartment projects.

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San Francisco, Ca