HONG KONG BN(O) VISA
The Hong Kong BN(O) Visa is an immigration route for Hong Kong British National (Overseas) citizens and their close family members (including non-BN(O)s) to live, work and study in the UK.
The Hong Kong BN(O) Visa route will open for applications from 31 January 2021. Applications can be made from outside or within the UK and there will be no quota on the number of visas issued.
Requirements for a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa
The requirements for a Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa are as follows:
- BN(O) Status: The main applicant must be a British National (Overseas);
- Dependency: The following family members are eligible to apply as dependents of the main BN(O) Visa applicant, if they normally live with them: a spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, a child (under the age of 18), an adult child born on or after 1 July 1997 (and their spouse, or child under the age of 18) and other family members (parent, grandparent, brother, sister, son or daughter) in exceptional circumstances where there is a high level of dependency;
- Residency: If applying from outside the UK, the main applicant and any family members applying at the same time must normally live in Hong Kong. If applying from within the UK, the main applicant and any family members applying at the same time must normally live in Hong Kong, the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man;
- Financial: Unless the main applicant has been living in the UK with valid leave for 12 months or more, the main applicant and dependents must be able to demonstrate their ability to accommodate and support themselves in the UK for at least six months;
- Character: The main applicant and dependents must have no serious criminal convictions, no behaviour not conducive to the public good, and not be subject to other general grounds for refusal;
- English: The main applicant and dependents must be committed to learning English in the UK;
- TB: The main applicant and dependents must each have a valid TB Certificate from an approved clinic, where necessary;
- Fees: The main applicant and dependents must pay the visa application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge fee.
The exact requirements you will need to satisfy will vary depending on your circumstances. You may want to speak to an immigration lawyer for expert advice.
Proving BN(O) Status
The main applicant for a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa must hold BN(O) Status.
A valid BN(O) passport is not required to apply for a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa, but it is possible to submit an expired BN(O) passport with an application. The Home Office recommends that “valid or expired BN(O) passports should be kept and submitted with an application as evidence of BN(O) status”.
If your BN(O) passport has been lost, “eligibility checks can be made using historical records held by Her Majesty’s Passport Office”.
It is also possible to apply for a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa using a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport. If you do not hold a valid BN(O) passport and your Hong Kong BN(O) Visa application is approved, you will still be able to travel on a valid Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport.
Additional Considerations for Dependents
Dependents do not need to have BN(O) status.
The main applicant and family members must all apply together at the same time. Family members are not able to apply for a Hong Kong BN(O) Dependent Visa to join a main applicant later.
Hong Kong BN(O) Visa Residency Requirement
Applications for a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa can be made from outside or inside the UK.
If applying from outside the UK, the main applicant and any family members applying at the same time must normally live in Hong Kong.
If applying to switch into the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa route from within the UK, the main applicant and any family members applying at the same time must normally live in Hong Kong, the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man.
How long is the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa valid for?
Applicants are able to enter or remain in the UK for either a period of 30 months (which can be extended by a further 30 months) or a period of 5 years.
Can Hong Kong BN(O) Visa holders work and study in the UK?
BN(O) Visa holders have a right to work in almost any role, consistent with UK employment laws and subject to having the appropriate skills and qualifications.
Dependent children are able to attend school (if under 18) or education and training (if aged 16 to 19).
How much does a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa cost?
A 30-month visa costs £180 per person, whilst a five-year visa costs £250 per person, both considerably lower than many other visa routes to the UK.
BN(O) citizens also need to pay the immigration health surcharge in order to receive access to the National Health Service in the UK, and they also need to demonstrate that they can support themselves and their dependents financially for at least six months in the UK.
Settlement in the UK under the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa route
To apply for settlement, Hong Kong BN(O) visa holders must be able to demonstrate 5 continuous years of residence in the UK.
If an applicant has spent time in the UK with a different type of leave under which a person can settle, this leave can be combined with time spent in the Hong Kong BN(O) category.
Absences from the UK of up to 180 days in any 12-month period are acceptable.
To settle in the UK after 5 years, those under 65 need to satisfy the Knowledge of Language and Life in the UK requirements.
Does the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa lead to British citizenship?
After being settled for a year, BN(O)s can apply to register as British under section 4 of the British Nationality Act 1981, and adult dependents can naturalise as British.
There are stricter residency requirements of no more than 450 days outside the UK during the 5 years prior to the date of application, and no more than 90 days outside the UK in the 12 months prior to the application.
How our immigration barristers can help Hong Kong BN(O) Visa applicants
The Immigration Rules contain strict requirements in terms of the documents that must be provided in support of a Hong Kong BN(O) visa application. It can be helpful to get advice from an immigration lawyer in order to ensure that your application is professionally presented and technically correct.
Our immigration barristers and immigration lawyers work closely with BN(O) citizens and their families. Our barristers are experts in the immigration options for Hong Kong BN(O) citizens and will guide you through the complex Home Office Immigration Rules and policies.
We pride ourselves on being approachable and proactive in understanding and meeting our clients’ needs. We are a highly driven team, dedicated to providing clear and reliable immigration advice to investors as part of a professional and friendly service.
We can also assist with
Other immigration options for non-BNOs born post-1997
There are other options for non-BNOs born post-1997, for example:
- Tier 1 – an investment visa for those who have access to at least £2 million;
- Tier 2 – a work visa for highly skilled Migrants (with a new points based system implemented in the New Year lowering the skill level and requisite salary, and removing some red tape);
- Tier 4 – for students in the UK;
- Tier 5 (Youth Mobility Scheme) – is open to BNOs and to HKSARs, but note for HKSARs there are only 1000 places available in 2020.
Of the above, only Tier 1 and Tier 2 are routes to settlement in the UK. Tier 4 and 5 are merely short term solutions.