News & Insights

New Visa Route for Hong Kong BNO Passport holders

The UK has recently created a new immigration route for citizens that are British Nationals (Overseas) (‘BNOs’). We discuss this new route and what it means for BNOs.

What is a BNO?

The BNO status cannot be granted as a current application. Someone will already have BNO status if they were a British Overseas Territories citizen by connection with Hong Kong and applied to register as a BNO before 1 July 1997. Being a BNO allows the citizen to hold a British passport and provides consulate assistance from UK diplomatic posts but the citizen will not be afforded an automatic right to live or work in the UK.

Currently, BNOs are able to stay in the UK as a visitor for a period of up to 6 months without a visa although they will be subject to immigration controls as any other non-UK visitor would. BNOs will not automatically have the right to live, work or take on long-term study and it is likely a visa will be required to do so.

What is the BNO visa?

BNOs require a visa to live, work, or study in the UK for a period exceeding 6 months. BNOs who obtain this visa can apply for a via term of 2 years and 6 months or 5 years. The duration of this visa can be extended as often as required.  It is also worth noting that BNOs may be eligible to apply for settlement after a continuous period of 5 years residence.

The visa permits work and study in the UK.  Previously it did not entitle them to most public fund benefits in particular access to most of the UK’s healthcare services. However, a recent change now enables them access to public funds in instances where the BNO is in the UK becomes destitute or is at risk of destitution and is granted a change of conditions application.

Who can apply?

The applicant must be a BNO and over the age of 18. Their permanent home must be in Hong Kong if they are applying from overseas or the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Hong Kong if they are applying from within the UK.

Generally family members of BNOs can also apply for a BNO visa if they are the following:-

  1. They are your spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner;
  2. Child or grandchild under the age of 18
  3. Child 18 or older and born on or after 1 July 1997 (or their partner and child)
  4. Parent, grandparent or sibling provided they normally live with the BNO and are very dependent on the BNO’s care

Ordinarily, a family member would apply for a BNO visa at the same time as the BNO.

Applicants will need to demonstrate that they will be able to accommodate and maintain themselves and any of their dependents for a period of at least 6 months without requiring access to public funds.

How much does an application cost?

The cost of applying is £180 for a 2.5 year visa or £250 for a 5 year visa. In addition to this, the application must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge which is £624 for adults and £470 for children under 18 years of age. (per year of visa)

Our immigration team are able to assist with advising or dealing with such applications so please do get in touch if you require assistance: [email protected].