British National (Overseas) visa – a gateway to re-locating to the UK

2 December 2020 | Applicable law: England and Wales

The Home Office has now unveiled the details of the new visa for British Nationals (Overseas) ('BNO') citizens of Hong Kong and in this article we set out what you need to know about the rules.

This latest information will be good news for an estimated 2.8 million people who registered as BNO citizens before 1997 when Hong Kong ceased to be a UK territory and became a Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China.

These visas will be issued from 31 January 2021, but some applicants can apply immediately, by making an application for leave to remain outside the rules on an exceptional basis.

With no minimum financial threshold for eligibility (other than the ability to adequately maintain and accommodate themselves for at least six months if the applicant has been living in the UK for less than 12 months on the date of application), this new visa is an attractive option for many Hong Kong residents interested in re-locating to the UK.

Because the visa will allow them to work, study, be self-employed or be self-sufficient in the UK, it gives BNO citizens and their families a wide remit for their activities in the UK, compared to other immigration categories.

It will enable BNO citizens, their dependent family members, and their adult children aged over 18 who are a member of their household, to obtain a visa for 2.5 or 5 years.

After 5 years of continuous residence in the UK, the visa holder could apply for indefinite leave to remain, giving them the right to live in the UK indefinitely, and later apply for British citizenship, should they wish.

There are two categories under this visa :

BNO Status Holder, which includes:

  • BNO citizens (providing they are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the UK);
  • their dependent partner;
  • their children or grandchildren under the age of 18, or the children or grandchildren of their dependant partner; and
  • in exceptional and limited circumstances, other dependant family members such as the parent or grandparent of the BNO citizen.

BNO Household Member, which includes:

  • adult children, born on or after 1 July 1997, of a BNO citizen, providing they form part of the same household;
  • their dependent partner; and
  • their children or grandchildren under the age of 18;

The BNO visa will give potentially millions of BNO citizens and their families a means to settle in the UK and, in time, become British citizens, with (relatively) low application fees and minimal financial requirements. This visa is a game changer for many Hong Kong families.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your eligibility for the BNOs visa, please contact t: +44 20 7597 6000

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


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