Title

Hong Kong BN(O) visas.

Background

Someone who was a British Overseas Territories citizen by connection with Hong Kong was able to register as a British National (Overseas) citizen before 1 July 1997. British Overseas Territories citizens from Hong Kong who did not register as British Nationals (Overseas) and had no other nationality or citizenship on 30 June 1997 became British Overseas citizens on 1 July 1997. It is not now possible for an individual to apply for British National (Overseas) citizenship.

The introduction of the BN(O) visa route is in response to China passing the Nationality Security Law in Hong Kong which restricts the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong.

Application 

The application is open to BN(O) citizens and their close family members from 31/01/21.

  • An individual should be a BN(O) citizen;
  • Family members include spouse/partner, child under 18, adult child born on or after 01/01/97 (and their spouse or child if under 18) and other family members where there is a high level of dependency;
  • Applications can be made inside and outside of the UK;
  • An individual will need to show that they can accommodate and financially support themselves and any family members for at least six months; however the current guidance states an individual will not need to meet this requirement if they have been living in the UK for more than a year at the time of the application;
  • If applying from outside the UK or if the individual was granted leave to enter the UK for less than six months they may need to produce a TB certificate.

 The guidance also states that a family must apply together and if dependent family members do not apply at the same time as the main applicant, they will not be able to apply for a BN(O) visa to join later. In respect of children it does state that those under 18 should apply with both of their parents, although there are some exceptions.

Leave can be applied for 30 months (which would need to be extended) or 5 years. It costs £180 to apply to stay for 30 months and £250 to stay for 5 years. The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) is payable, this amount varies depending upon whether the individual is seeking leave for 30 months or five years and if they are an adult or a child.

The visa entitles the individual to work, study including for higher education courses and use the NHS. They cannot however claim benefits. Children will be entitled to attend school and those aged 16 -19 will be able to access education and training.

Settlement can be obtained after the completion of 5 years residence and provided the requirements are met, although if the individual has already spent time in the UK under another category which leads to settlement (e.g. tier 2 visa) then that period of residence will count towards the 5 years. But leave under tier 4 (student) and tier 5 will not count.  

More information should hopefully be provided once applications for the visa open.