Hong Kong British National Overseas Visa

Hong Kong British National Overseas Visa

A new immigration route in the UK has opened for Hong Kong nationals with British National Overseas status.

The Hong Kong BN(O)Visa

The Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa is a new UK visa route that opened in January 2021. The new path is available for all British national living overseas. The visa route allows British National Overseas citizens in Hong Kong to come to live, study or work in the UK. Successful applicants can also bring certain family members with them to the UK.

You can either apply for a 2 year and 6 months BNO Visa or a five year visa. The visa also acts as a route to settlement for overseas nationals in Hong Kong. After 5 years of lawful residence in the UK BNO visa holders will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. It also acts as aroute to British citizenship, which can be applied for after holding ILR for at least 12 months.

Applications can be made from both within the UK and outside of the UK.

Who is eligible for a BNO?

All Hong Kong British National Overseas citizens who are over the age of 18 are able to apply for this visa route.

British National Overseas (BNO) citizenship is a type of British nationality that was created by the UK government in 1985 that people in Hong Kong could apply for before the 1997 handover to China, this was to enable them to retain a link with the UK. The status cannot be passed down to family members and prior to the launch of the new BNO Visa means that Hong Kong BNO citizens could only visit the UK for up to 6 months without a visa.

There are around 2.9 million people who have British National Overseas citizenship in Hong Kong who can be eligible for the visa and their family members can also be eligible to join them.

It’s worth noting that to be able to apply, your permanent home must either be in Hong Kong, if you’re applying from outside the UK, or in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Hong Kong if you’re applying whilst in the UK.

Applications officially opened in January 2021. You do not need a valid BN(O) passport to apply. However, if you already hold one (including expired documents) you can submit it along with your bundle of supporting documents.

All applicants will need a valid travel document. Hong Kong nationals can use the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passport to enter the United Kingdom.

Applying and travelling with your family members

You can include in your BNO Vita application certain family members who normally live with you. This includes the following categories:

  • Spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner
  • Your children or grandchildren under the age of 18
  • Adult children born on or after 1st July 1997 (and their spouse and children under the age of 18) if they live with you and are dependent on you for their care
  • Other family members (grandparents, parents, siblings) in exceptional circumstances

Partners applying to join applicants on a British National Overseas Visa must be over the age of 18 and the partner of either the BNO citizen or the partner of the BNO citizens adult child. During the application they will need to prove that they are either in a civil partnership or marriage that’s recognised in the UK or in a serious relationship and have been living with their partner for at least 2 years.

To join you in the UK, each family member will need to make their own application as your dependent. As the applicant with BN(O) status, you will need to submit your application first to get an application number, this is known as Unique Application Number (UAN). Then, any family members will need to use this application number when they apply as a dependent. Your family members must submit their applications within two days of you submitting your own application.

What can I and can't I do on a BN(O) Visa?

You can live, work and study in the UK whilst in the country on a BN(O) Visa however there are some restrictions. You cannot work in the UK as a professional sportsperson or sports coach and you usually will not be able to claim any public funds whilst in country.

In some circumstances, however, BN(O) visa holders may be able to apply for benefits, this includes if you:

  • Don’t have a place to live and cannot afford one
  • Dave a place to live but cannot afford essential living costs like food or heating
  • Are at risk of losing your home or being unable to afford essential living costs
  • Have a very low income, and not having access to benefits would harm your child’s wellbeing

BNO Visa financial requirements

To be eligible for a BN(O) visa you must demonstrate that you can accommodate and provide financial support to yourself and your family for at least 6 months once in the UK. This can include you or your family member’s income and savings, money you will earn from a current job in the UK, or an offer for help from family and friends.

As evidence of your circumstances, you must provide the following supporting documents:

  • Bank statements
  • Written statements from friends or family offering financial support or accommodation

All documents that are not written in English must be accompanied by a certified translation.

As well as money to prove that you can afford housing costs, you will also need to show that you have access to the same amount of money that someone in the UK on Income Support would normally receive. How much you will need depends on whether family members are also applying with you and how many of them there will be.

You’ll need about:

  • £2,000 as a single adult
  • £3,100 as a couple with a child
  • £4,600 as a couple with 3 children
  • £9,200 as a couple with 2 parents and 2 adult children

Do you need help with your BNO Visa application, our lawyers are here for you.

BN(O) Visa rejected

A British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) Visa can be refused based on a number of reasons.

One of the most common reasons for rejection is because the applicant fails to convince the entry clearance officer that they are a genuine British National (Overseas) citizen.

If your application for a BN(O) Visa has been refused, it may be possible to request an administrative review. This request must be submitted within 14 or 28 days of receipt of the rejection (depending on where you apply from).

If the immigration authorities believe that an error was made in the decision to refuse the visa, they may reverse the decision and the applicant can continue with the application process.

However, if the entry clearance manager upholds the original decision, this means that the applicant has the option to file a Pre-action Protocol for a Judicial Review, and if the outcome of this is unsuccessful, the next step is Judicial Review.

Alternatively, applicants may be more successful if they decide to submit a fresh application.

How can We Manage Your Visas help?

WMYV is the leading immigration services provider in the UK. Our team of professional immigration lawyers are committed to helping all our clients by offering excellent and bespoke advice.

The BN(O) visa is a new immigration route, meaning that the application may seem complex and confusing. Our lawyers are trained in all the latest updates to UK immigration law and know exactly what it takes for a successful application.

If you wish to receive professional assistance with your BNO application, one of our immigration lawyers in London will be happy to help you through each step of the application process. Your lawyer can assess your eligibility, help you to fill in the application form and can assist you with gathering all of the documents that you will require.

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We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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