Malaysian British Overseas Citizens: Part 2 - Statelessness
Updated: May 29, 2020
If a person wishes to apply for leave to remain in the UK as a stateless person, they must first show that they are a stateless person in accordance with the definition set out Article 1(1) of the 1954 United National Convention (“the 1954 Convention”) relating to the Status of Stateless Persons:
"the term “stateless person” means a person who is not considered as a national by any State under the operation of its law"
Meeting the 1954 Convention definition is only the first requirement, however.
Under the Immigration Rules prior to April 2019, in order to qualify for leave to remain in the UK as a stateless person, it was a requirement that a person also had to show that they were:
“not admissible to their country of former habitual residence or any other country”
In the case of Teh v Secretary of State for the Home Department  EWHC 1586 (Admin), it was successfully argued that a person who has BOC status and no other nationality is in fact stateless for the purposes of Article 1(1) of the 1954 Convention. It was acknowledged that the fact that the UK government has referred to them interchangeably as citizens and as nationals, does not mean that they are not stateless and that what is required is an assessment of the “rights, privileges and obligations” of the person with the status in question. The High Court recognised that as a BOC has no right of abode anywhere in the world, they must be stateless in this context.
That case was lost by Mr Teh, however, because it was held at that time that he was “admissible” to Malaysia. The evidence demonstrated that a former Malaysian/BOC who had renounced or voluntarily relinquished their Malaysian Citizenship could apply for a 5-year renewable Resident Pass and that that was sufficient to render Mr Teh “admissible” under the Immigration Rules at that time.