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UKSolicitorJA, Solicitor
Category: Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 4312
Experience:  English solicitor with over 12 years experience
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Application for colonial Hong Kong wife to SETTLE in UK

Customer Question

I was born in England and hold a full British Citizen Passport while my wife holds a British National (Overseas) Passport. My wife is ethnically Chinese and she was born in Hong Kong when it was under British Rule.


We got married in England in August 1991 but have lived together continuously since our marriage in Hong Kong.


I moved to Hong Kong in 1990 and I met my wife while at university in UK in 1988. We attended the same UK University. However, our whole married life has been in Hong Kong. We also have two children who were born in Hong Kong – but they hold full British Citizen Passports by virtue of their British Citizen father.


On 31st December 1991 the Hong Kong Immigration Department (when Hong Kong was under British rule) wrote to my wife to say on behalf of the UK Home Secretary she is eligible to apply for entry clearance to settle in the UK with her British Citizen spouse at any time. This letter stated she is on the register of non-British-citizen spouses of British citizens.


Apart from vacations, the only official times my wife has left Hong Kong were to take a degree course in England and later to get married.


1988 - 1989 (1 year) degree conversion course in UK, BEd(Hons)

1991 (1 to 2 months) Marriage in UK


On the basis on this letter authorized by the UK Home Secretary I would like to ask if she falls into the category mentioned in the Immigration Directorate Instructions, Chapter 8 – Family Members, Section 1 Spouses as a person making an application before 9 July 2012 which were not decided before that date.


In particular, because she lived with a British Citizen husband for more than 4 years while Hong Kong was under British rule, is she eligible for the rare endorsement Settlement Spouse/CP under Annex A 2.6 granting indefinite leave to enter to UK.


(1) Our marriage was in England and so no question that our marriage is valid.

(2) She has a degree from a UK university – so she does not need to pass an English test

(3) She holds a British National (Overseas) Passport (BNO) and so does not need to take the KOL Knowledge of Life (Living in UK) Test.


We now wish to move to live in the UK permanently with our two children. On the above basis should my wife be applying for the Settled spouse/CP visa which grants her indefinite leave to enter UK. Then after living in the UK for 12 months can she then naturalize as a UK citizen and hence obtain a full British citizenship passport?


Some relevant information to help understand the letter my wife has can be found at following link:


I hope somebody is up to the challenge of answering my question?

Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Immigration Law
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 2 years ago.


I am afraid I do not see your wife falling under the previous immigration rules which were in place before 9th July 2012 as she did not apply before that date, irrespective of the letter from the HK Immigration Department iof December 1991.

However, the letter did say she is eligible to apply for entry clearance as a spouse of a British citizen, and this is still the fact, she is eligible to apply for entry clearance as your spouse but her application will be decided under current immigration rules, not the previous ones.

So I am afraid she will have to take the 5 year route to getting indefinite leave to remain in the UK and on the date she obtains ILR, she will be immiediately able to apply for British citizenship under S.6(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 which does not require spouses of British citizens to wait for 12 months after receiving ILR to apply for British citizenship. They may apply immediately they receive ILR provided they have lived in the UK for 3 years.

Hope this helps .

Can I help further?

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you very much for your reply.


I was just wondering if there is any significance in the word SETTLE? Or am I reading too much into this?


The exact wording in the letter is:


" are eligible to apply for entry clearance to settle in the United Kingdom with full name... at any time.


I take this to mean she can apply for a settlement visa any time in the future - or is this the usual type visa that is applied for to begin with?


Yes, true we did not apply for entrance clearance in 1991 as we were not planning to return to UK in the short term. However, we did apply/request for this letter. So I was wondering if this had any relevance to the bit in the Chapter 8 instructions - not decided before that date?


The letter is written in a way that would make it consistent with whatever the future entry clearance rules are. However, in my wife's case the rules do not make any difference. My wife is except from the new Life in UK test as she has a BNO passport. She also does not need to take the new English test as she took a degree in a British University.


The only other point is I remember reading once (not sure where?) that if one is living as a couple in a British territory then this would be counted as living in the UK? In our case we were living as a married couple in Hong Kong between 1991 and 1997 (6 years) when Hong Kong was a crown colony. I am probably completely wrong on this though?



Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 2 years ago.
Hello again,

This is the usual type of visa to begin with i.e. a probationary visa before actual settlement is granted. It is commonly known as a spouse settlement visa but until indefinite leave to remain is granted, she would not become settled.

I am afraid living in HK is not treated the same as living in the UK.

My previous answer still stands I am afraid.

All the best
UKSolicitorJA, Solicitor
Category: Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 4312
Experience: English solicitor with over 12 years experience
UKSolicitorJA and 3 other Immigration Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.



Thank you very much for prompt reply.


Much appreciated.



Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 2 years ago.
Thank you.

I will revert should I have any further news.

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