The Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa route was launched in January 2021. Eligible applicants are able to apply for a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa visa from within the UK or from outside the UK. In this post, we answer some frequently asked questions relating to the Hong Kong BN(O) Status Holder Visa.
Who Is Eligible for a Hong Kong BN(O) Status Holder Visa?
A British National (Overseas) is someone who was a British overseas territories citizen by connection with Hong Kong and applied to be registered as a British National (Overseas) before the end of 1997. To be eligible, you must be a British National (Overseas) under the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986.
What Are the Requirements for a Hong Kong BN(O) Status Holder Visa?
To be eligible for a Hong Kong BN(O) Status Holder Visa, you must demonstrate that:
- You are at least 18 years old or over on the date of application;
- You are a British National (Overseas);
- Your application does not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal;
- You are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, the UK or Crown Dependencies;
- You have sufficient funds to support and accommodate yourself in the UK for six months without access to public funds;
- You have obtained a valid TB certificate, if required.
How to Apply for a BN(O) Status Holder Visa
Firstly, you must apply either by completing an online visa application form or using the UK Immigration: ID Check app if you have a chipped HKSAR, BN(O), or EEA passport.
You will then need to pay the visa application fees and Immigration Health Charge (IHC). The amount of the visa application fee and IHC depend on the length of stay you select. If you select permission to stay in the UK for 30 months, the visa fee is £180 and IHC is £1,560. The visa application fee is £250 and IHC is £3,120 if you opt to stay for five years. The Immigration Health Charge is not payable for the Crown Dependencies' Hong Kong BN(O) routes.
To ensure that your application is valid, you must provide a passport or travel document establishing your identity and nationality.
Additional Considerations if Applying for a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa From Outside the UK
If you are applying for a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa from outside the UK, do take note of the following points:
- You must ordinarily resident in Hong Kong at the date of application;
- You must apply for and obtain entry clearance as a BN(O) Status Holder before you arrive in the UK;
- You may be required to provide a valid TB certificate;
- You must demonstrate that you have sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK for at least six months;
- You will also need to demonstrate that the accommodation is adequate and that it is not overcrowded or contravenes public health regulations;
You can rely on credible offers of financial support and/or accommodation from a third party. We have explained how adequate maintenance is calculated in our post here.
Can I Apply for a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa From the UK?
Yes, it is possible. If you are applying for permission to stay or you are in the UK on another route, you may be able to switch into the Hong Kong BN(O) Status Holder Visa. You must normally reside in the UK, the Bailiwick of Guernsey, Bailiwick of Jersey, the Isle of Man or Hong Kong on the date of application.
For in-country applications, a TB certificate is required if your last grant of permission was for 6 months or less and you were present in a country listed in Appendix T of the Immigration Rules for more than six months immediately before your last grant of permission. For more information regarding TB testing in the UK for Hong Kong BN(O), please click the link here.
For applicants applying from the UK, the financial requirement is likely to have been met if you have been living in the UK for at least 12 months.
Are My Family Members Allowed to Apply for a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa?
Yes, your partner, children and grandchildren under 18 years old may be able to join. There are circumstances where adult dependent relatives can also apply. For more information, do check out our guide on Hong Kong BN(O) Visa for Dependent Partners of BNO Status Holders and Hong Kong BN(O) Visa: Dependent Children under 18.
What Can I Do (And Not Do) As a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa Holder Visa?
If your application for a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa is approved, you will be allowed to work, but you will not be permitted to be employed as a professional sportsperson or sports coach. You will also not be able to access public funds. You can choose to study, subject to the ATAS condition.
Can the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa Lead To Settlement?
We have prepared a post discussing Settlement on the BN(O) Visa Route and it contains useful information such as who is eligible and the guidance issued by the Home Office in December 2021.
To summarise, you must satisfy the validity and suitability requirements for settlement. You must also demonstrate that you have been living in the UK for five continuous years. This could be a combination of different visas leading to settlement, but your most recent grant of permission must have been on the Hong Kong BN(O) route. It is important to know that time spent on certain routes, such as the Student route and Youth Mobility Scheme do not count as these routes do not lead to settlement.
The residence requirement does apply and you must not be absent from the UK for more than 180 days in any 12 month period. You will also need to demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the English language and produce evidence that you have successfully completed the Life in the UK test, unless you are exempt.
Can the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa Lead To British Citizenship?
After 12 months of settlement, you may be eligible to apply to naturalise as a British citizen under section 4 of the British Nationality Act 1981.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.