- British National (Overseas) Visa: An Overview
- Eligibility Criteria Of The BNO
- How To Apply For The British National (Overseas) Visa
- Applying With Your Family Members
- Processing Time Of The Application And What To Expect
- The Validity Period Of The BNO
- Things You Can and Cannot Do on the British Nationals (Overseas) Hong Kong Visa
- How Our Immigration Lawyers Can Help You
- Frequently Asked Questions
British National (Overseas) Visa: An Overview
The British National visa was launched on January 31, 2021. It was created because the UK believes the new national security law for Hong Kong breaches the agreements that were established between China and the UK during the handover of Hong Kong.
The British Nationals (Overseas), otherwise known as the BNO visa, is designed for Hong Kong nationals who also have British National (Overseas) status and before July 1, 1997, were registered as British nationals (Overseas). The visa allows its holders to enter the UK along with their immediate family members to settle, study, and work in the UK.
The BNO status in the UK will allow you to stay for up to 5 years in the country, and qualify to apply for British citizenship. Obtaining this visa does not require sponsorship from an employer as you (the applicant) can complete the application process alone.
You may be required to provide proof of your BNO status in some situations, such as when you want to apply for your driving licence, register with a doctor, or open a bank account. As an applicant, you are not required to have a BNO passport or minimum English proficiency level requirement.
If you are selected, you will be able to work and further your education, but you will not be immediately qualified for government-funded programmes classified as public funds.
Also, upon your entry into the UK, you will not be instantly regarded as a home student for tuition fees. Therefore, you must be able to support and care for yourself for at least the first 6 months of your stay in the UK.
To apply for the BNO, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. They include:
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Be a BNO according to the Hong Kong British Nationality Order 1986.
- Have the capacity to support and accommodate yourself and any dependent in the UK for a minimum of at least 6 months.
- Be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, if you are applying to enter the UK. But if you are applying for permission to stay, you should live in the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man or Hong Kong.
- Have presented a valid TB certificate, if needed.
- There are no general grounds for rejection applicable to your application.
Changes to the Application Process
Previously, the scheme only allowed people born after 1997 to enter the UK with their parents. But the rules changed in 2022, and now permit some individuals who were born on or after July 1, 1997, and who are at least 18 years old, to apply for the BNO visa by themselves.
This implies that Hong Kong teenagers can visit the UK without being accompanied by their parents. To submit your application, you will not need to hold a valid BNO passport because the Home Office will be able to verify your status through their records.
You must provide your identification, such as a passport proving your nationality if required. To apply, you do not need a BNO passport as long as you fulfil the other requirements.
Furthermore, you must prove that you can afford a house and support yourself and your dependent family members for 6 months. The amount of money needed will vary based on the number of family members applying with you.
It must at least equal the UK’s equivalent of Income Support, and should cover your costs of accommodation. This would be approximately:
- £9,200 for 2 adult children, a couple and parents.
- £4,600 for 3 children and a couple.
- £3,100 for a child and a couple.
- £2,000 for one adult.
Your income, savings or help from your friends or family can help you to meet this requirement. If you have already stayed in the UK for the past 12 months, you will not be required to fulfil this financial requirement.
The concession allowing the Home Office to grant 12 months leave outside the rules to BNO applicants was extended by the Home Office in 2023. These applicants apply from the UK but do not meet ordinary resident or financial requirements at the time of their application. If you are an applicant under this route who does not meet the visa suitability requirements, you may not qualify for this route.
Applying from Outside the UK
Fill out your BNO visa application online and follow the guide on how to prove your identity to finish your application. At this stage, you may need to use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your EEA passport, BNO, or Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
You can use these details to create or sign into your UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) account.
You can attend an appointment at your nearest visa application centre to have your biometric information collected. Your passport may be retained while your application is being processed at the application centre. It is advised that you must be sure of the decision made on your application before you travel to the UK.
Applying from Within the UK
If another UK visa has granted you entry into the country, you can still apply to change it to a BNO visa. You have to apply for your BNO visa online.
At the time of your application, you will be told whether you need to verify your identity using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app if you possess an EEA e-passport, BNO, or Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). You may also be advised to attend an appointment at a UK Visa Citizenship Application Services (UKCAS) centre.
If you are a British National Overseas, or an adult child or a British National Overseas, your family members can apply for the BNO as your dependent.
Your dependents include:
- Your child or grandchildren under 18 years old.
- Your partner’s child is under 18 years old.
- Your unmarried partner, civil partner, wife, or husband.
- Your grandparent, parent, sister, brother, daughter or son (above 18 years old). They must live with you and are highly dependent on you because of age, disability, or illness.
Your children who are above 18 years old must apply for a BNO visa separately from yours. Whereas your partner’s child above 18 years old can apply as your dependent, provided they were born on or after July 1 1997 (their partner or child is also qualified to be your dependent).
Your application and that of your partner’s child must be filed at the same period as yours. They must typically live with you unless they are studying away from home.
A partner applying to be your dependent for a BNO visa must be 18 years old or above. They must prove that:
- They are in a relationship and living with you for a minimum of 2 years upon their application.
- They are married or in a civil partnership that is recognised in the UK.
For Children Under 18 Years Old
Children under the age of 18 must typically apply with both parents, except if:
- One parent already possesses a BNO visa.
- One parent is a British citizen, and for this has the right to permanently live in the UK.
- One of the parents caters for the child alone.
The child must typically reside with you except if they are currently studying abroad or if they are applying after you have already relocated to the UK.
For Adult Dependents
If you have adult family members, they can also apply as dependents. They must live with you and be highly dependent on your assistance or personal care to carry out their daily activities because of their age, illness or disability.
The adult dependents in this category could be:
- Your grandparent or parent or those of your partner.
- Your daughter or son or those of your partner.
- Your sister or brother or those of your partner.
If you have adult dependent relatives, they can apply if they can prove that:
- They cannot be well taken care of in Hong Kong due to your absence despite the support from you and your partner.
- They typically reside with you or your partner.
- Medical documents show that they require long-term care to perform daily personal and domestic duties due to disease, disability, or advanced age.
The adult dependents can apply as adult dependent relatives, and they must apply concurrently with you.
Applying for the BNO Visa
Each of your family members must apply individually as your dependents and within the same period of leave, that is 5 years or 2 and a half years. You must submit your application to obtain an application number, otherwise called a Global Web Form (GWF) or a Unique Application Number (UAN).
When your dependent family members begin to file their applications, they must use your application number. Their applications must be filed on the same day you file yours (primary application).
To obtain a faster decision on your application, you can connect all your applications using a Group Reference Number (GRN). If you’re the first applicant in your family, you may be eligible for a GRN.
The GRN helps to create an application group for your family. Once they apply to be added to your group, your family members can then enter the GRN.
Keep in mind that, unless a parent or grandparent is solely responsible for children under the age of 18, they must apply with both of their parents. Also, in your applications, you and your family members must prove that you live together and have a qualifying relationship. After a visa decision is made, a dependent can’t apply.
Besides that, partners or children under the age of 18 don’t need to apply concurrently with you. This is because your partner and child can still apply when your visa is still valid. Also, within 2 days of your application, other family members need to apply as your dependents.
In light of these mentioned rules and qualifications for dependent family members, you may get confused along the way in your application. It is ideal to seek expert guidance from immigration lawyers.
Our immigration lawyers at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers are well-versed in all UK immigration-related matters. For assistance in applying for a BNO along with your dependent family members, call us on 0121 667 6530 or message us online.
Processing Time Of The Application And What To Expect
Once you are done applying, you can keep in touch with the status of your BNO visa via the Home Office online immigration status-checking service. You can also contact the UKVI contact centre.
It typically takes about 12 weeks (3 months) to get a decision on your BNO application. The 12-week processing time begins from the day you submit your online application if you applied through the ‘UK Immigration: ID check’ app.
The 12-week processing time also begins from the day you submit your biometric information at the UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) point, during your appointment.
The Validity Period Of The BNO
The BNO visa is valid for either 2 years and 6 months or up to 5 years. However, once you are in the UK, if you want to stay longer than 5 years, you can apply to extend your visa for as long as you want. You can apply to reside in the UK permanently after staying in the UK for up to 5 years.
Things You Can and Cannot Do on the British Nationals (Overseas) Hong Kong Visa
With a BNO Visa, you can enter the UK to work, reside, and study there, but there are some limitations. Professional athletes and sports coaches are not permitted to work in the UK, and while you are there, you are typically not eligible to receive any government assistance.
BNO visa holders, however, might be eligible to petition for benefits in certain situations. These situations include if you:
- Do not have accommodation but can afford essential living costs, such as heating or food.
- Do not have accommodation and cannot afford one.
- Are about to lose your accommodation or are unable to cover your living expenses.
- Do not have sufficient income and your inability to access benefits would be detrimental to the well-being of your child.
You are required to comply with the provisions of the UK immigration law while applying for your BNO visa. During your application, you must provide all required documents. It is advised that you seek helpful advice from immigration lawyers who can help you make a solid professional application.
Our friendly immigration lawyers at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers are well-versed in cases regarding immigration options for BNO citizens and are readily available to assist you throughout the rigorous Home Office Immigration laws. We have helped several BNO applicants obtain their visas and enter the UK with their dependent family members.
Our dedicated lawyers can offer you all the assistance you need, from helping you decide your eligibility and being by your side throughout the application process. Reach out to us at Birmingham Immigration Lawyers today for more information about British dependent territories citizenship. Call us on 0121 667 6530 or message us online.
Last modified on November 6th, 2023 at 8:40 am
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Yes, British Overseas Citizens can apply for British citizenship if they meet eligibility requirements and qualify for it.
As a British National (overseas), you will still be subject to immigration controls, even after obtaining a British passport. Additionally, you will not automatically have the right to work or live in the UK. Whereas a British citizen has the automatic right to live, study, and work in the UK without immigration control and can obtain a British passport.