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British National (Overseas) Visa

If you’re from Hong Kong and are a British national (Overseas) you and your family members can apply for a British National (overseas) visa. This is known as a BNO visa. It allows you to live, work and study in the UK.

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You are able to apply for British National Overseas Visa to enter or stay in the UK for a period of 30 months (which you can extend by a further 30 months) or a period of 5 years. You are able to apply from outside or inside the UK.

You are able to apply for settlement after 5 years if you meet the requirements and British citizenship 12 months after settlement.

Hong Kong BNO Visa Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible for the Hong Kong BNO visa, applicants must be ahead 18 or over, have British national (overseas) status and ordinarily be resident in Hong Kong, the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Currently, the scheme only permits those born after 1997 to come to the UK with their parents. A change in the rules from this autumn will allow those born on or after July 1, 1997, and aged 18 or over to independently apply for the BNO visa. This means teenagers living in Hong Kong will be able to travel to the UK without their parents.

You will not need to have a valid BNO passport to make your application, as the Home Office should be able to check your status from records.

Applicants will need to prove their identity, for example using any applicable nationality passport.

You do not need to have a BN(O) passport to apply, provided you meet the other eligibility criteria.

BNO Visa Maintenance Requirement

BN(O) visa holders must prove they can provide a house and financially support themselves and their dependent family members for 6 months.

The level of funds required will depend on how many family members are applying with you and will need to cover accommodation costs and be at least the equivalent level of Income Support in the UK. As a guide, this would be around:

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

You can meet this requirement either through income, savings or help from family or friends.

The financial requirement doesn’t apply if you have already been in the UK for at least 12 months.

Which family members are eligible?

Your dependents may also be eligible to apply with you for the BN(O) visa.

Dependant family members could include your:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Unmarried partner, where you have been cohabiting for a minimum of 2 years at the time of the application
  • Child or grandchild under 18
  • Child 18 or older, born on or after 1 July 1997 (and their partner or child under 18)
  • Parent, grandparent, brother, sister, son or daughter (18 or older) if they live with you and are very dependent on you for their care

Dependents should also normally live with you.

How to apply from overseas

Complete the BN(O) visa application online. You will then be advised how you need to prove your identity to complete your application. This will require you to either use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your BNOHKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) or EEA passport, or to attend an appointment at a local visa application centre to submit your biometric information. If you have to attend an application centre, your passport may be retained while the application is processed.

How to apply from the UK

If you are already in the UK on a different visa, you can apply to switch to the BN(O) visa.

The BN(O) application has to be made online. You will be advised at the time of making your application if you need to verify your identity using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app (if you have a BNO, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) or EEA e-passport) or if you need an appointment at a UKVCAS centre.

If your visa has already expired, such as your 6-month visitor visa, you can still apply by 31 March 2021 provided:

  • your UK visa expired between 1 July 2020 and 31 January 2021, or
  • your 6-month visit ended between 1 July 2020 and 31 January 2021.

How to apply with your family

Each family member has to apply for the same period of leave as you, ie two and a half years or five years.

Once you have submitted your application, you will be issued a Global Web Form (GWF) or a Unique Application Number (UAN). Your dependant family members will need to use this reference number to make their own application. Dependant applications should be made on the same day as you make your primary application.

Note also that children under 18 have to apply with both of their parents unless one parent or grandparent has sole responsibility for them.

Both you and your family members will need to prove in your individual applications that you have a qualifying relationship and that you live with each other.

It is not possible for a dependant to apply after your visa decision has been made.

How much does the BNO visa cost?

The BN(O) visa application fee is £180 for a 2-and-a-half-year visa, or £250 for a 5-year visa. The fee is payable per applicant.

Most applicants will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge at the time of making the application, to cover the relevant visa period (30 months or 5 years). The Immigration Health Surcharge is now £624 per visa holder per year, with a reduced rate for children. For a 5-year visa, this will equate to £3,120 per adult and £2,350 for applicants under 18 years of age.

In addition, each applicant will also need to pay £19.20 to submit biometric information.

BNO Visa Supporting documents

As well as completing the application form, you will also need to submit documentation to evidence your eligibility in relation to nationality, residence, maintenance, relationship to your dependants

  • Valid passport or other travel document to confirm your identity
  • Mortgage statements or tenancy agreement
  • Utility bills
  • A letter from your employer, on company letterhead, confirming your address and employment
  • Immigration document such as a residence permit
  • Proof of funds such as bank or savings account statements, proof of income if self-employed, payslips

BN(O) passport holders can use their passport (even if expired) to prove their status. This will expedite processing but is not a mandatory requirement as the Home Office will still be able to access records to confirm your status.

You will need to provide three different, recent documents proving you have a permanent home in Hong Kong, the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

If family members are applying with you, they will also have to provide evidence that they live with you, with at least one document dated no more than 31 days before the application such as a copy of a marriage or civil partnership certificate or birth certificate.

You may also need to provide a TB test certificate (from an approved test centre and no more than 6 months old) if you have been living in Hong Kong or another country where you have to take a TB test for the past 6 months, or you did not provide a TB test certificate when you came to the UK.

From BNO visa to indefinite leave to remain & British citizenship

After 5 years in the UK under the Hong Kong BNO visa, holders become eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain. The ILR application requires applicants to show continuous residence in the UK during the qualifying 5-year period. This means having absences from the country of no more than 180 days in any 12-month period during the 5 years.

With ILR, you are no longer subject to immigration control and can remain in the UK indefinitely. Should you be absent fro the UK for more than 2 years, your ILR status will likely expire.

With 12 months ILR status, you may then become eligible to register as a British citizen under s4 of the British Nationality Act 1981. This requires you to complete Form B(OTA) and pay the registration fee of £1,225.20. Non-BNO family members, however, are expected to have to naturalise as a British citizen, a different process to registration which is also more expensive at £1,349.20.

Need Assistance with BNO Visa?

Nexus Visas are UK immigration specialists. We have substantial experience of advising Hong Kong nationals across all types of UK visa applications. If you have a query about the BN(O) visa, your eligibility for the route or how to apply, contact us.

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Nexus Visas assists international clients in obtaining UK visas, residence and citizenship under the respective programs. Contact us to arrange an initial private consultation.

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