New BN(O) Visa for Hong Kong Nationals
The Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa for BN(O) citizens will open on January 31st 2021.
This bespoke immigration route will enable British National Overseas citizens who are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, the chance to move to the UK to work and study.
The visa is valid for 30 months and can be extended for a further 30 months. Once a BNO Visa holder has spent five years living in the UK, they will be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain status. They will be able to apply for British citizenship after they have spent one year living in the UK under Indefinite Leave to Remain.
The UK government publicly announced the new immigration route in the summer. The government said that the new immigration route is being offered in response to the Chinese government’s decision to impose a new National Security Law on Hong Kong. The UK said the security law contravenes the promises laid out in the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984.
The policy statement, which was released in July, said the proposed changes were a reflection of the “unprecedented circumstances” in the territory, and Britain’s “unique obligations” to those with BNO status.
Who is Eligible?
BN(O) citizens are eligible for the new BN(O) visa. You don’t need a valid British passport to show that you are a BN(O) citizen. Also, you will not need to request a new passport if it’s expired or has been lost.
You need to have a valid travel document and you can use a valid Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport to travel if you have one.
You and your family members must normally live in Hong Kong. If you’re already in the UK, you must normally live in Hong Kong, the UK, Jersey, Guernsey or the Isle of Man.
If you normally live in Hong Kong, you will need to provide a Tuberculosis test certificate too.
Permitted Activities Under a BN(O) Visa
As a BN(O) Visa holder, you will have full access to the UK job market. You are also permitted to study in the UK and receive healthcare with the NHS (you will need to pay the immigration health surcharge).
Also, your children will be able to attend school if they are under 18 and attend education and training if they are aged 16 to 19.
However, you cannot claim social welfare benefits as a BN(O) Visa holder.
Can my Family Members Join Me?
Yes, immediate family members who normally live with you will be able to apply.
- Your spouse/civil partner or long-term unmarried partner
- Child who is under the age of 18
- Adult child born on or after 1st July 1997 (as well as their spouse, or child under the age of 18)
- Other family members including parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, sons or daughters if they require a high level of dependency
In most cases, your family members will need to apply with you at the same time.
You must be able to demonstrate that you can financially support yourself and your family for at least six months in the UK.
You may need to provide bank statements or evidence of offers of support or accommodation from family or friends.
If you have been living in the UK for more than a year, you will not need to meet the requirement.
How to Apply for the BN(O) Visa
As mentioned above, the BN(O) Visa route will open from 31st January 2021. The fees for the visa are as follows:
- £180 to apply to stay for 30 months
- £250 to apply to stay for five years
There is also the immigration health surcharge which you will need to pay. Currently, the fees are:
- £1,560 if applying to stay for 30 months
- £3,120 if applying to stay for 5 years
- £1,175 for a child under 18 who is applying to stay for 30 months
- £2,350 for a child under 18 who is applying to stay for 5 years
What do I Need to Know About UK Settlement?
You will be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain after you have spent five years in the UK under the BN(O) Visa. This is a form of UK settlement, which means you will be able to stay in the UK without any immigration conditions imposed on you.
The main eligibility criteria for Indefinite Leave to Remain is as follows:
- Must pass the Life in the UK test – a series of questions on the history, traditions and culture of the United Kingdom
- Must be able to prove that you can understand and communicate in English up to the level of B1 as set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
- Must have spent no longer than 180 days outside of the UK in a 12-month period during your UK residency
- Must pay the fee for UK settlement
You will be eligible for British citizenship after you have spent twelve months living in the UK under Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Any time which you have spent in the UK under another long-term visa, such as a Tier 2 Visa, will count towards minimum residency requirements.
Do you Need Support with the BN(O) Visa Application?
If you are thinking about applying for the BN(O) Visa, Birmingham Immigration Lawyers can help. We will work with you to formulate your visa application to the very highest standard, offering you the very best chance of securing your BN(O) Visa.
Our experienced UK immigration lawyers can support you through the entire application process.
To find out more, please call us now on 0121 667 6530.
Dominic Raab (pictured) said the UK would offer a path to citizenship for Hong Kong nationals in the summer. [Image credit: BBC]
Home Secretary Priti Patel (pictured) announced the new visa in July. [Image credit: BritishUnited]
The new BN(O) Visa is open to all BN(O) citizens [Image credit: Medium.com]