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  • Writer's pictureEmma Harris

Malaysian British Overseas Citizens: Part 3 - New Possibilities

Updated: May 29, 2020

Prior to April 2019, former Malaysian/BOCs who had renounced or voluntarily relinquished their Malaysian Citizenship post-2002 were being refused leave to remain in the UK as stateless persons on the basis that they are “admissible” to Malaysia because they could obtain a 5-year renewable Resident Pass to live there. (This is explained in more detail in Malaysian British Overseas Citizens: Part 2 - Statelessness)

In April 2019, the Home Office amended the requirements under paragraph 403 of the Immigration Rules along with the accompanying guidance relating to applications for leave to remain as stateless persons. As a result of these changes, the future may now look a little brighter for former Malaysian/BOCs.

The relevant requirements are now as follows:

"403. The requirements for leave to remain in the United Kingdom as a stateless person are that the applicant:
(a) has made a valid application to the Secretary of State for limited leave to remain as a stateless person;
(b) is recognised as a stateless person by the Secretary of State in accordance with paragraph 401;
(c) has taken reasonable steps to facilitate admission to their country of former habitual residence or any other country but has been unable to secure the right of admission; and
(d) has obtained and submitted all reasonably available evidence to enable the Secretary of State to determine whether they are stateless or whether they are admissible to another country under the meaning of paragraph 403(c);
(e) has sought and failed to obtain or re-establish their nationality with the appropriate authorities of the relevant country; and
(f) if, in the case of a child born in the UK, has provided evidence that they have attempted to register their birth with the relevant authorities but have been refused."

The most notable change is to the test for admissibility to another country. The change is not very obvious in the Rules themselves but the Home Office’s guidance now confirms that a person will only be considered “admissible” to another country where they are entitled to admission with at least permanent residence.

Where the case of Teh was lost under the old Rules because he, and others like him, were allegedly entitled to a 5-year Resident Pass, this would now be insufficiently permanent for him to be considered “admissible” to Malaysia.

The new Rules now put additional burdens on people applying for leave to remain as a stateless person, however, in that there are explicit steps that they must have taken before they will be eligible to apply.

A person will most likely have to approach the Malaysian High Commission and make applications for both permanent residence and the re-acquisition of their Malaysian Citizenship. Only if they can evidence having taken both of these steps, and can demonstrate that those applications have been unsuccessful, will they be able to meet the new requirements.

It is hoped that the Malaysian High Commission will provide written confirmation of any such applications but, in light of anecdotal problems historically, it may well be necessary to take witnesses and to provide witness statements in the place of documentary evidence from the Malaysian High Commission itself.

After years of living in limbo, former Malaysian/BOCs may now have a chance to regularise their status and that of their families.

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