Hong Kong BN(O) Visa
On 22 JULY 2020, the UK Home Secretary provided important updates pertinent to status of the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa.
The key points of note are as follows, namely:
- At present time, if you have BN(O) Visa, you can stay as of right in the UK as a visitor for up to SIX (6) months without a visa. As a visitor, you do not have the right to live, work or take up long-term study in the UK.
- Commencing 01 JAN 2021, a new route will be open for BN(O) visa holders and their close family members from January 2021;
- Applications can be made both inside and outside the UK;
- There will be two (2) options:
- Apply for leave to enter or remain in the UK for an initial-period of 30 months, which is extendable by a further period of 30 months; or
- Apply to enter or remain in the UK for a single-period of FIVE (5) years.
- After FIVE (5) years of living in the UK, applicants will be able to apply to settle in the UK (“ILR”). After a further period of 12 months with ILR status, applicants can then apply for British citizenship.
- During the initial period, these applicants will be able to work and study in the UK but will not be eligible to access public funds.
- Unlike other immigration routes, BN(O) Visa applicants will have access to the job market at any skill level and will not have to meet any salary thresholds.
There are several eligibility requirements to apply for the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa. You will need to be able to satisfy evidence as follows, namely:
- THAT YOU have BN(O) status – an existing valid or expired BN(O) Visa;
- THAT YOU normally live in Hong Kong;
- THAT YOU can accommodate and support yourself financially in the UK for a period of at least SIX (6) months;
- THAT YOU demonstrate a commitment to learn English;
- THAT YOU obtain a TB-test certificate from a Home Office approved clinic; and
- THAT YOU settle payment for the immigration fee and the immigration health surcharge.
‘Leave Outside the Rules’
If there is no current immigration route available to you, the UK Border Force may consider granting ‘Leave Outside the Rules’ for a period of SIX (6) months.
This can include yourself and your dependants. Evidence required for this route is: your identity; your BN(O) status; that you normally reside in Hong Kong; and that you can accommodate and support yourself financially in the UK.
- Spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner (if together for more than two years);
- Children under the age of 18; and
- Other family members if there is evidence of a high level of dependency.
Evidence will be required to prove the relationship between yourself and your dependants. This could include marriage certificates, birth certificates and proof of residing together.
If entering via this route, you and your dependants can work and study, but you cannot access public funds or use the NHS for free.
Those eligible to do so will be able to switch to the Hong Kong BN(O) route once it is open, from within the UK.