On 31st January 2021, a new UK visa route opened for Hong Kong nationals holding British National (Overseas) status. The process was enhanced on 23rd February 2021, when the smartphone app went live.
The route was introduced in response to China’s breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, which has restricted the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong. The BN(O) visa allows eligible applicants to come to the UK to live, work and study. After 5 years in the UK, they will also be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain. British Citizenship can then follow 12 months later.
The requirements for a BN(O) Visa
Applications can be made from overseas and within the UK.
To qualify, you must:
- Be a BN(O) status holder. It is not however essential to hold a valid BN(O) passport.
- Normally reside in Hong Kong , if applying from outside the UK. Alternatively, if applying from the UK, you will need to be normally be resident in either the UK, the Bailiwick of Guernsey, Bailiwick of Jersey, the Isle of Man or Hong Kong.
- Be able to financially support and accommodate yourself (and any dependants) for at least 6 months. This is not required if you have been living in the UK for 1 year or more when the application is made.
- Meet the Tuberculosis (TB) Certificate requirement by providing a certificate from an approved provider.
- Satisfy the suitability requirements. under the general grounds set out within the Immigration Rules, not be in breach of immigration laws and not beon immigration bail.
What is BN(O) status?
From 1985, Hong Kong residents with British Dependent Territories Citizen status were given the option to apply for BN(O) citizenship, before the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China.
In addition, those who held no other nationality on 30th June 1997 automatically acquired BN(O) status.
If successfully obtained, a BN(O) status holder could retain this status for the duration of their lifetime. However, this type of British nationality could not be passed down to family members.
BN(O) status provided the right to hold a British passport and receive consular assistance and protection from UK diplomatic posts. It did not however give its holders the automatic right to live in the UK. They remained subject to immigration control and were far from ‘equal’ to British Citizens. The BN(O) visa route has now opened the door to the UK for qualifying individuals and provides a pathway to British Citizenship.
Who can use the UK Immigration: ID Check App?
Any applicant with one of the following chipped passports can use the app:
– British National (Overseas) (BN(O))
– Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR)
All other applicants need to make their application online and attend a biometric enrolment appointment. If applying outside the UK, this will be at a Visa Application Centre. If applying from within the UK, this will be at a UKVCAS.
How much does a HK BN(O) Visa cost?
The cost depends on the duration of the visa. The below fees are payable for each applicant.
– Up to 30 months: £180
– 5 years: £250
In addition, each applicant is required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). This will be:
– For an Adult: £1,560 (if applying for 30 months) or £3,120 (if applying for 5 years)
– For a child: £1,175 (if applying for 30 months) or £2,350 (if applying for 5 years)
Eligible Family Members of British Nationals (Overseas)
The following people are able to apply as the family members of a BN(O) status holder:
– A spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner
– Children under the age of 18
– Adult children born on or after 1 July 1997 who form part of the same household as the BN(O) Citizen (and their dependant partner and children)
– in exceptional circumstances other family members (Parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, sons or daughters) where there are high levels of dependency
It is very important that family members apply at the same time as the BN (O) status holder. f they apply after the BN(O) status holder’s application has been granted, their own application will be refused.
If you are unsure whether you or your family members are eligible for a BN (O) visa then please get in touch. Our friendly immigration team can advise on the required documentation or make the application on your behalf. Please call 020 7205 2115 or complete our contact form to request a call back.