IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Hong Kong BN(O) Migrants Panel Survey

This research project aims to facilitate the formulation and development of policies and services that support the integration of British National Overseas (BN(O)) migrants into British society.

The Hong Kong BN(O) Migrants Panel Survey is organised by scholars based at UCL, King's College London, and The University of Oxford and is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).  

This three-year study, running from May 2023 to April 2026, aims to gather reliable, accurate, and representative data about the needs and experience of the BN(O) migrants in the UK. The data that we collect will help the development of policies and services that would support the integration BN(O)s into British society.

 This page is also available in Chinese – 此網頁亦有中文版.


On 31 January 2021, the UK government launched a new visa route that would allow Hong Kong residents with British National (Overseas) status and their family members to move to the UK. By the end of September 2023, over 154,000 out-of-country BN(O) visas had been granted, and over 135,000 BN(O) migrants had arrived in the UK. In addition, nearly 31,000 in-country BN(O) applications had been granted (Source: GOV.UK, Safe and legal (humanitarian) routes to the UK). This is one of the largest migration waves to the UK from a single source ever recorded.  

Just as the Windrush migrants of the 1950s and 1960s, the East African Asians of the 1970s, and the Central and Eastern European migrants who arrived in the UK from the mid-2000s have contributed to the social and economic landscape of the UK, the BN(O) migrants are also expected to make a significant impact. However, systematic and representative information about the BN(O) migrants is currently lacking.

Key topics that we aim to investigate include:

  • How are the BN(O) migrants faring in the UK?
  • What are their needs and experiences?
  • How do BN(O) migrants compare with other migrant groups or minority ethnic groups?
  • What are BN(O) migrant’s long-term plans – will they stay in the UK or will they return to Hong Kong after a few years?

In this project, we aim to collect systematic, reliable, and representative data that will help answer these questions. The data that we collect will assist in the development of policies and services that support the integration of the BN(O) migrants into British society.

Back to top

Research methods

We aim to interview about 2,000 BN(O) migrants from 1,000 households initially, and follow them over three years, using online and telephone interviews. 

The Home Office will draw a random sample of BN(O) migrants in the UK. Invitations to take part in the survey will be sent by the Home Office to the sampled BN(O) households in Summer 2024. After sending out the invites, the Home Office will have no further involvement in the project.  

Ipsos, an independent research organisation, has been commissioned to conduct the survey. The interview can be done online or by phone in English or Cantonese. The second and third waves of the survey will take place in early 2025 and 2026.

Back to top

Frequently asked questions and privacy notice

Frequently asked questions

General study information

What does BN(O) stand for, and what is the difference between BN(O) status and the BN(O) visa?

BN(O) stands for British National (Overseas). It is a form of British Nationality, created for Hongkongers by the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986, which came into effect in 1987. BN(O)s are not British citizens though. They do not have the right of abode in the UK. In response to the imposition of a National Security Law in Hong Kong in 2020, the UK Government set up a new migration scheme for Hongkongers with BN(O) status. From January 2021, Hong Kongers could apply for a visa – the ‘BN(O) visa’ – to move to the UK. This provides the BN(O) migrants a path towards full British citizenship.

How might the HKBNO-PS benefit Hong Kongers in the UK?

The data that we collect in this study will support academic research and policy analyses about the BN(O) migrants, which will lead to a better understanding of their needs and experience and the programmes that might better support them as they settle in the UK.

Who funds this study?

The HKBNO-PS is funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council.

Which universities are involved in this study?

The three Universities involved are University College London, King’s College London and the University of Oxford.

Who is conducting the research

Ipsos is an international market research and opinion polling company.  Ipsos will be conducting the fieldwork on behalf of the research team from the three universities.

What is the role of the Home Office in this study?

The Home Office draws a random sample of the BN(O) migrants for this survey and sends emails to those sampled members, inviting them to take part. Beyond that, the Home Office will have no further involvement in the study. No information that the respondents give will be shared with the Home Office. Whether or not sampled members choose to take part in this survey will have absolutely no impact on their or any of their dependents’ current immigration status or any future immigration applications.

How are the survey respondents selected?

The survey respondents are selected randomly from a list of all BN(O) visa-holders that is held by the Home Office. Selecting respondents in this way ensures that our sample is unbiased and representative, and we can be more confident that our findings can be generalised to all BN(O) migrants in the UK.

How many people are interviewed in this survey?

In wave 1 of the survey, we plan to interview about 1,000 BN(O) visa holders In addition, we hope to interview people aged 16 or over who live in the same household as those sampled (which might be another 1,000 interviews).

What is a panel survey?

In a panel survey, the same set of respondents are interviewed several times, typically at regular intervals, say, once a year.

Why is the HKBNO-PS a panel survey?

The needs and experience of the BN(O) migrants might change over time as they settle in the UK. We want to document those changes in this study.

What will you ask during the interview?

The main topics that we cover in this survey include work, housing, health, children’s education, identity, community participation, and adjustment to life in the UK.

What will happen to the data collected in the study?

The data will first be anonymised to ensure that no respondent can ever be identified. We will then deposit the data set with the UK Data Service where bona fide researchers can access and analyse the data under the strict conditions specified by the UK Data Service.

Information for BN(O)s invited to take part in the survey

How was I selected to take part in this study?

This survey sample is chosen randomly from a list of all BN(O) visa holders It is completely a matter of chance that you are selected to take part in this study.

Where did you get my information?

We do not have any information about you at all. And unless you agree to take part in this study and decide to share your contact information with us, we will not have any information about you.

Do I have to take part?

It is completely up to you. But we very much hope that you will be willing to help with this important research and that you will enjoy taking part in this study.

If I choose not to take part, will it influence my visa status?

Not at all. This study is an independent survey conducted by researchers from universities. Your decision to take part, or not, will have absolutely no bearing on your visa status.

How do you protect the privacy and confidentiality of the respondents?

The HKBNO-PS data set will be anonymised such that no respondent can ever be identified from it. In other words, information that might identify individuals will be withheld. Moreover, researchers analysing the data set will only publish statistical summaries of the BN(O)s as a group, and not the circumstances of any individual.

For how many years will I have to be part of the study?

We currently have funding to interview the survey respondents three times over three years. We very much hope that you will stay in this study throughout the three years, but you don’t have to. You can choose whether to take part or not in each survey, or leave the study at any time you like.

How will researchers have access to my data?

Bona fide researchers will first need to register with the UK Data Service.  When applying to access the HKBNO-PS data set, they will have to explain the nature of their research project, the research questions that they will address, and so on. They must also agree to follow the strict rules on privacy and data protection specified by the UKDS.

Who can take part in the survey?

I have been invited to take part in this survey, but I have not yet moved to the UK, can I take part in the survey?

This study is about BN(O) migrants in the UK. So if you have received an email from the Home Office inviting you to take part in this study, and you have not yet moved to the UK, please ignore that invitation email.  Please also email us at UK-hkbnosurvey@ipsos.com so that we can remove you from the list of invitees.

I am not a BN(O) visa-holder, but I live with someone who is invited to take part in this study, can I still take part in the survey?

If you live with a BN(O) migrant who has been invited to take part in this study and you are aged 16 or over, then we would like to interview you, whether you are a BN(O) migrant or not.

Why do you want to interview the main visa holders and their household members?

The needs and experience of members of the same household might not be the same. By interviewing all household members aged 16 or over, we will gain a fuller understanding of BN(O) migrants in the UK.

Can anyone in my household participate in the survey even if they were born in the UK?

Yes, they can, if they are aged 16 or over. At the end of the survey with the main visa-holder, we will ask him/her to share the email addresses of other household members with us, and we will invite them to take part.  Alternatively, the main visa holder can share a link with other household members for them to take part in the survey.

What if my partner and I both receive an invitation email from the Home Office to take part in this survey?

If you and your partner apply for the BN(O) visa independently, there is a small chance that you and your partner will both receive an invitation email from the Home Office. In this case, one of you can complete the survey as the main respondent. The other can ignore the Home Office email and complete the survey as a secondary respondent. At the end of the survey with the main respondent, we will ask him/her to share a link with you. Please also email us at UK-hkbnosurvey@ipsos.com so that we know about the double invitation.

Will everyone complete the same questionnaire?

Basically, yes; but the primary respondent, i.e. the main visa-holder, has a few more questions about household composition, housing tenure, and so on.

What will the interview involve?

How will I be interviewed?

You can either complete the questionnaire online or request that one of our interviewers phone you back to complete the interview by phone. To complete the survey by telephone please call 08000461487.

How long will the interview be?

The interview takes about 40 to 45 minutes if you are the primary respondent, i.e. the main BN(O) visa-holder of your household. For other interviewees, the interview will take about 30-40 minutes.

When will the study happen?

Wave 1 of the survey will take place from 9 July through 6 September 2024. Wave 2 and wave 3 will take place in the Spring/Summer of 2025 and 2026 respectively.

Are translations available?

Yes, there is a Chinese version and an English version of the questionnaire.  If you prefer to be interviewed by telephone, you can choose to speak to a Cantonese-speaking interviewer or an English-speaking interviewer.

What will I get for taking part?

You will feel the warm glow of satisfaction of having helped Britain understand a bit more the needs and experience of the BN(O)s. We will also send you a £20 voucher which you can spend online or in most shops after you have completed the interview. After each wave, we will send all survey respondents a summary report of our findings.

Do I have to answer all the questions?

Many of the more sensitive questions allow you to answer that you “Prefer not to say”.

What will happen in future?

What will happen to the information I give?

The information that you give us is protected by law. We will not sell your data to third parties, and you will not receive junk mail or marketing calls as a result of taking part in this study. Your personal information will remain confidential, and any results that we publish will not identify you or your household. We will use your data for statistical analyses only, and we will act in accordance with the ethical principles set out by the UK Statistics. Other researchers accessing and analysing the HKBNO-PS data set through the UK Data Service will have to follow the same rules and principles.

Who is in charge of protecting my data?

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the UK Data Protection Act 2018 set out the legal framework for the acquisition, storage, and usage of personal data. This framework applies to all organisations, including universities. All universities have data protection officers to ensure their staff’s compliance with the law. The Information Commissioner’s Office is the regulator and can issue fines for breaches of the relevant law.  Researchers breaching the relevant law will also face sanctions from their university, the UK Data Service, and the Economic and Social Research Council.

Will I receive feedback?

After each wave, we will send all survey respondents a summary report of our findings. These reports will describe the situations and experience of the BN(O)s as a whole, so you can compare your own experience with the overall picture.

Will I get to know the findings?

Apart from the summary reports after each wave, we will, from time to time, send you short newsletters that highlight new research findings as they are published. 

How will you contact me again?

During the survey, we will collect your contact details. We will contact you by letter, email and/or phone. If you prefer us to contact you in a particular way, please let us know.

When will you contact me again?

We will contact you again in Spring 2025 if you are happy for us to do so and have given us your contact details.

How can I inform you when my contact details or address change?

Please email us at UK-hkbnosurvey@ipsos.com or call us at 08000461487 to let us know of any change of your address or contact details.

How do I opt out of this study altogether?

To opt out of this study, please email us at UK-kbnosurvey@ipsos.com or call us at 08000461487.

Who to contact if I need any help or support?

Survey queries

If you have any questions related to the survey or need technical assistance, you can contact the Ipsos study team at UK-hkbnosurvey@ipsos.com or 08000461487.

Other support

We hope taking part in the survey will be a positive experience. If you feel that you have been impacted by any of the topics discussed in the survey, there are organisations that you can talk to. The following organisations provide advice on a range of issues:

  • Citizen’s advice: This organisation provides advice on a range of topics including benefits, work, debt and money, consumer, housing, family, law and courts, immigration, and health.
  • Equality and Human Rights Commission: Equality and Human Rights Commission offers advice and support for individuals experiencing discrimination.
  • ACAS: Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service offers guidance on employment rights including those related to discrimination and harassment.
  • Victim support: This NGO provides free assistance to victims of crime including discrimination and harassment.
  • Mental health foundation: You can access a range of mental health support services through this website.
  • Hong Kongers in Britain: Hong Kongers in Britain provides information, community support and resources for Hong Kongers who have moved to or are considering moving to the UK.
  • The Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI): This is a charity that offers advice, support, and legal assistance for immigrant’s rights in the UK.
Privacy notice

About this privacy notice

The Hong Kong BN(O) Migrants Panel Survey (“we” “us”, or “our”) respects your privacy and is committed to protecting your personal data. We are committed to complying with the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018).

We are also committed to being honest, fair and responsible when we process your data. This privacy notice tells you what happens to any personal data that you give to us, or any that we may collect about you. More information about how we use your personal data is available in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section above.
Please read this Privacy Notice carefully – it describes why and how we collect and use personal data and provides information about your rights. It applies to personal data provided to us, both by individuals themselves or by third parties and supplements the following wider UCL privacy notice(s):

About the Hong Kong BN(O) Migrants Panel Survey

The Hong Kong BN(O) Migrants Panel Survey is a collaboration among King's College London, the University of Oxford, and University College London. The management of the project resides at Quantitative Social Science (QSS). QSS is part of the Faculty of Education and Society at University College London (UCL). 
UCL, a company incorporated by Royal Charter (number RC 000631), is the entity that determines how and why your personal data is processed. This means that UCL is the ‘controller’ of your personal data for the purposes of data protection law.

Giving and withdrawing your permission to take part in the Hong Kong BN(O) Migrants Panel Survey

We ask your permission to be part of the study. We do this so that, after receiving information about how your data will be used, you can choose whether to take part in the study. You can contact us at any time to request to change any of the permissions that you have given. You do not need to give a reason for this. If you consent to take part and later withdraw, we may not be able to delete previously collected data because it will be anonymised but will not collect any further data about you.

Data Controllers

UCL is the organisation that decides how and why the personal data that you have given to the study is used. In the GDPR and DPA 2018, this means that UCL is the Data Controller. 

When we share data with other organisations, these organisations may also be Data Controllers. 

We tell you about how UCL and other organisations that we work with process your data and whether these organisations are data controllers in the information that we provide when we collect data from you. We also provide this information in the study FAQs above.

Contact details of the Data Controller

Further information about how we handle your data is available in the privacy and data protection FAQs above.

You can contact us at the details below if you:

  • Have any questions about the study or the way that we process your data.
  • Want to withdraw from the study, or from a survey.
  • Want to use your individual information rights.
  • Want to update your contact details.

Call: +44 (0)20 7679 2000
Email: bnopanelsurvey@ucl.ac.uk 
Post: University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

Contact details of the UCL Data Protection Officer (DPO)

More information about how we handle your personal data is available at UCL’s data protection web pages (ucl.ac.uk/data-protection/data-protection-overview/understanding-data-protection-ucl) and UCL research participants’ privacy notice (ucl.ac.uk/legal-services/privacy/ucl-general-privacy-notice-participants-and-researchers-health-and-care-research-studies). If after contacting us, you need more help or wish to complain about how we use your personal data or use any of your individual information rights, please contact UCL’s DPO:

Email: data-protection@ucl.ac.uk 
Post: Data Protection Officer, 
University College London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT

More information about individual rights and privacy notices is available at the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website. If after contacting UCL, you still have any concerns about the way in which we use your data, you have the right make a formal complaint to the ICO. Full details may be accessed in the complaints section of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) website. CLS is included in UCL’s registration with the ICO (number: Z6364106).

Personal data that we collect about you

Personal data, or personal information, means any information about an individual from which that person can be identified. It does not include data where the identity has been removed (anonymous data).

We may collect, use, store and transfer different kinds of personal data about you. This may include:

  • Your name and contact details
  • ‘Special category’ data about you (this may include details about your race or ethnicity, religious or philosophical beliefs, sexual orientation, political opinions, trade union membership, information about your health etc.)
  • Sensitive research data and other research data that could potentially identify you. This includes research data from the study surveys, sensitive data and linked data. The information that would identify you is removed from this data before it is safely deposited at national data sharing stores
  • Original questionnaires (including consent)
  • Data relating to family members of survey participants
  • Data relating to other household members residing with the respondent.

How we use your personal data

We will only use your personal data when the law allows us to. Most commonly, we will use your personal data in the following circumstances.

 We collect your data with your permission to:

  • Register you as a participant in the Hong Kong BNO migrants' panel survey.
  • Update you on the research’s progress.
  • Share research findings and insights with you.
  • Reach out to members of your household who have been invited by you to participate in the survey.

Your contact details

We collect your contact details from you to keep in touch with you and to invite you to take part in surveys and activities that relate to the Hong Kong BN(O) Migrants Panel Survey. We may ask you for contact details of other people living in your household.

Your contact details are shared securely with research organisations that provide services to us and with other data controllers. Your contact details are never shared with anyone outside the research team. Please do contact us if your contact details change.

Withdrawal of participation and anonymity

You have the right to withdraw your participation at any time by contacting us using the details set out below. 

Your personal data will be anonymised. Anonymised data means that we replace or remove information in a dataset that directly identifies you, such as your name and address, and is a security measure taken to reduce the risk of you being identified in our research data. Any analysis of our data is carried out on grouped data and is not reported as individual answers.

Data is anonymised for the purposes of:

  • Academic research and publication
  • Informing policy development and public discourse on migration issues.

Anonymised data will also be deposited to the UK Data Service, a digital repository for quantitative and qualitative social science and humanities research data in the United Kingdom. 

Who we share your personal data with

Your personal data will be collected and processed primarily by the research team of the HKBN(O) Migrants Panel Survey project. We will share your personal data with the parties set out below for the purposes outlined in section 4.

We have partnered with Ipsos UK, a survey agency, to assist in the data collection phase of this project. Access to your personal data is strictly limited to personnel within Ipsos who require this information to carry out their roles in the execution of the survey.

The data collected will also be accessible to members of the project's research team, which includes academics from King's College London and the University of Oxford. Similar to our arrangement with Ipsos, only team members who need to work directly with the data for research purposes will have access.
We require all third parties to respect the security of your personal data and to treat it in accordance with the law. We do not allow our third-party service providers to use your personal data for their own purposes – we only permit them to process your personal data for specified purposes and in accordance with our instructions. Access to your personal information is limited to individuals who have a legitimate need to see it for the purpose of carrying out their job.

How long will Ipsos retain your personal data and identifiable responses?

If you withdraw from the study, any data already collected will continue to be used unless you explicitly request that we delete it using the details at the end of this privacy notice. If you request that we delete any personal identifiable information (such as name and contact details), we will delete the data you have provided to us. If you also wish to have your anonymised survey data and all data about you deleted, please make this request within 6 months of taking part in the survey. After that date, it will not be possible to remove your anonymised data from the study.

Ipsos will only retain your data in a way that can identify you for as long as it is necessary to support the research project and findings. In practice, this means that once Ipsos has satisfactorily reported the research findings to their research partners, Ipsos will securely delete your personal, identifying data from their systems. For this survey, Ipsos will securely delete your personal data from their systems by 31st December 2026.

Lawful basis for processing

Data Protection Legislation requires that we meet certain conditions before we are allowed to use your data in the manner described in this notice, including having a "lawful basis" for the processing. The basis for processing will be as follows:

The lawful basis for using information collected for this research project at UCL is ‘public task’, which falls under Article 6(1)(e) of the GDPR. It also falls under Article 9(2)(j), “processing is necessary for archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific or historical research purposes or statistical purposes”.

International transfers

We do not transfer your personal data outside the UK or the European Economic Area (EEA). 

Information security

We have put in place appropriate security measures to prevent your personal data from being accidentally lost, used or accessed in an unauthorised way, altered or disclosed. We have established procedures to deal with any suspected personal data breach and will notify you and any applicable regulator of a breach where we are legally required to do so.

Data retention

We will only retain your personal data for as long as necessary to fulfil the purposes we collected it for, including for the purposes of satisfying any legal, accounting, or reporting requirements.

We will keep your personal data according to the Records Retention Schedule.

Your individual information rights

Under certain circumstances, you may have the following rights under data protection legislation in relation to your personal data:

  • Right to request access to your personal data
  • Right to request correction of your personal data
  • Right to request erasure of your personal data
  • Right to object to processing of your personal data
  • Right to request restriction of the processing your personal data
  • Right to request the transfer of your personal data
  • Right to withdraw consent.

 If you wish to exercise any of these rights, please contact the Data Protection Officer.

Contacting us

You can contact UCL by telephoning +44 (0)20 7679 2000 or by writing to: University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT. 

Please note that UCL has appointed a Data Protection Officer. If you have any questions about this Privacy Notice, including any requests to exercise your legal rights, please contact our Data Protection Officer using the details set out below:

Data Protection & Freedom of Information Officer: data-protection@ucl.ac.uk.


If you wish to complain about our use of personal data, please send an email with the details of your complaint to the Data Protection Officer so that we can look into the issue and respond to you. 

You also have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) (the UK data protection regulator).  For further information on your rights and how to complain to the ICO, please refer to the ICO website.

Version control

This privacy notice is updated regularly and was last updated on 1 May 2024.

For more information about how we use your personal data, please see our Frequently Asked Questions above.

Back to top


Principal investigator



Survey manager

  • Dori Lau, UCL

Back to top