Overview of the Hong Kong BNO Visa
The Hong Kong BN(O) visa is a visa route introduced by the UK government to provide a pathway to British citizenship for Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status holders and their family members. It was introduced in response to the implementation of the new national security law in Hong Kong.
Under this visa route, BN(O) status holders and their close family members are eligible to apply for a visa to live and work in the UK. Close family members include spouse, civil partner, unmarried partner, and dependent children under the age of 18.
To be eligible for the Hong Kong BN(O) visa, applicants must be BN(O) passport holders, have a valid BN(O) passport, and meet the eligibility criteria set by the UK government. This includes proving their identity, providing supporting documents such as birth certificates and marriage/civil partnership certificates, and meeting the financial requirements.
The financial requirement includes demonstrating that the applicant can adequately maintain and accommodate themselves and their dependents in the UK without recourse to public funds. This may involve showing evidence of employment, savings, or other financial support.
The application process involves completing an application form, paying the application fee, and submitting supporting evidence. The main applicant needs to demonstrate that they are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the UK. Dependent family members can apply at the same time or join the main applicant later.
Successful applicants will be granted leave to remain in the UK for five years, after which they can apply for settled status. After one year of settled status, they can apply for British citizenship.
It’s important to note that this information is based on the knowledge available up to September 2021, and there may have been updates or changes to the immigration rules and requirements since then. For further advice and the most up-to-date information, it is recommended to consult the official UK government sources or seek professional immigration advice.
Hong Kong BNO Visa Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible for the Hong Kong BN(O) visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- BN(O) Status: You must be a British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport holder. The BN(O) status is granted to people who were British Dependent Territories citizens by connection with Hong Kong before the transfer of sovereignty to China on July 1, 1997.
- Valid Passport: You must hold a valid BN(O) passport. If your passport has expired, you can apply for its renewal before applying for the visa.
- Residence in Hong Kong: You need to demonstrate that you are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the UK. This means you must have a substantial presence and regular residence in either location.
- Identity and Relationship: You need to provide supporting documents to prove your identity and your relationship to your family members, if applicable. This may include birth certificates, marriage or civil partnership certificates, and other relevant documents.
- Financial Requirement: You must meet the financial requirement, which involves demonstrating that you can adequately maintain and accommodate yourself and any dependents without recourse to public funds in the UK. This can be achieved by showing evidence of employment, savings, or other sources of financial support.
- English Language Proficiency: There is no English language requirement for the Hong Kong BN(O) visa.
- Criminality Check: You will be required to undergo a criminality check as part of the application process. Serious criminal convictions or a recent prison sentence may affect your eligibility.
It’s important to note that these requirements are based on the information available up to September 2021. The UK government may have updated the eligibility criteria or introduced new requirements since then. It is advisable to consult the official UK government sources or seek professional immigration advice for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding the Hong Kong BN(O) visa.
BN(O) visa holders are required to demonstrate their ability to provide housing and financial support for themselves and their dependent family members for a period of six months. The specific amount of funds necessary will depend on the number of family members included in the application and must cover accommodation expenses at a minimum equivalent level of Income Support in the UK.
As a reference, the approximate amounts needed are as follows:
- £2,000 for a single adult
- £3,100 for a couple with one child
- £4,600 for a couple with three children
- £9,200 for a couple with two parents and two adult children
To meet this financial requirement, applicants can rely on income, savings, or assistance from family or friends.
It’s important to note that the financial requirement does not apply if the applicant has already been residing in the UK for a minimum of 12 months.
In 2023, the Home Office introduced a concession allowing for a 12-month leave to be granted outside the regular rules to BN(O) applicants applying from within the UK who do not meet the financial or ordinarily resident requirements at the time of application. However, eligibility under this concession is contingent upon meeting the visa suitability requirements.
Please be aware that the amounts and specific requirements mentioned above are based on the information available up to September 2021. For the most up-to-date and accurate information, it is advisable to consult the official UK government sources or seek professional immigration advice.
Which Family Members are Eligible?
Under the Hong Kong BN(O) visa, certain family members are eligible to join the main applicant in the UK. The eligible family members include:
- Spouse or Civil Partner: The spouse or civil partner of the main applicant is eligible to apply for the visa. A civil partnership certificate or marriage certificate is usually required as supporting evidence.
- Unmarried Partner: The unmarried partner of the main applicant, who has been in a relationship akin to marriage or civil partnership for at least two years, can also apply for the visa. Evidence of cohabitation and the nature of the relationship will be necessary to support the application.
- Dependent Children: The dependent children of the main applicant, who are under the age of 18, are eligible to join the main applicant in the UK. Birth certificates or adoption certificates will be required as supporting documents.
It’s important to note that dependent family members must apply and travel to the UK with the main applicant or join them later, and they cannot apply separately. Additionally, family members must meet the eligibility criteria and provide the necessary supporting evidence to be included in the visa application.
The specific requirements and procedures for including family members in the visa application may vary, so it is advisable to consult the official UK government sources or seek professional immigration advice for further guidance based on individual circumstances.
In addition to completing the application form for the BN(O) visa, you will be required to submit supporting documents to demonstrate your eligibility in relation to nationality, residence, maintenance, and your relationship to your dependants, if applicable. These documents may include:
- Valid passport or travel document: This is necessary to confirm your identity.
- Mortgage statements or tenancy agreement: These documents can be used as evidence of your residence.
- Utility bills: Recent utility bills in your name can further establish your residential address.
- Employer letter: A letter from your employer, on company letterhead, confirming your address and employment can be submitted as proof.
- Immigration document: If you hold a residence permit or any other immigration document, it should be included.
- Proof of funds: This may include bank or savings account statements, proof of income if self-employed, or recent payslips to demonstrate your financial capability.
BN(O) passport holders can use their passport, even if expired, to prove their status. While not mandatory, presenting the passport can expedite processing. The Home Office can also access records to confirm your status if needed.
You will need to provide three different recent documents that demonstrate you have a permanent home in Hong Kong, the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man.
If you have family members applying with you, they will also need to provide evidence of living with you. This can be supported by documents such as a marriage or civil partnership certificate, birth certificate, or any other relevant proof of cohabitation. At least one of these documents should be dated no more than 31 days before the application.
In some cases, you may be required to provide a TB test certificate if you have been living in Hong Kong or another country where a TB test is mandatory for the past 6 months. This certificate should be from an approved test center and no more than 6 months old. If you previously entered the UK without providing a TB test certificate, you may need to provide one now.
By gathering and submitting these supporting documents, you can fulfill the requirements and ensure a smoother processing of your BN(O) visa application.
How to Apply From Overseas
To apply for the BN(O) visa, you can start by completing the application online. Once you have filled out the necessary information, you will receive instructions on how to prove your identity. There are two options for this:
- UK Immigration: ID Check App: You can use the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan your BN(O), HKSAR, or EEA passport and verify your identity electronically. Follow the app’s instructions to complete this process.
- Visa Application Centre Appointment: Alternatively, you may be required to attend an appointment at a local visa application centre. During this appointment, you will need to provide your biometric information, such as fingerprints and a photograph. In some cases, your passport may be retained temporarily while your application is being processed.
It is advised by the Home Office that BN(O) applicants should wait for a decision on their visa application before making any travel arrangements to the UK. This means you should avoid traveling to the UK until you have received confirmation of your visa approval.
By following these guidelines, you can ensure a smoother application process and avoid any unnecessary complications.
How to Apply with your Family
Each family member, including dependants, must apply for the same period of leave as the main applicant. This means they should apply for either two and a half years or five years, depending on the chosen duration.
After submitting your application, you will receive 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 applications. It is important that dependant applications are submitted on the same day as the primary application.
It’s worth noting that children under 18 years old must 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 provide evidence in your individual applications to demonstrate your qualifying relationship and cohabitation.
It is not possible for a dependant to apply once the main applicant’s visa decision has already been made. Therefore, it is crucial to include all eligible family members in the initial application to avoid any complications.
By ensuring that each family member applies for the same duration of leave and submits their applications with the necessary evidence, you can enhance the chances of a smooth and successful application process.
How much does the BNO visa cost?
The application fee for the BN(O) visa depends on the duration of the visa. For a 2 and a half year visa, the fee is £180, while for a 5-year visa, the fee is £250. It is important to note that the fee is payable per applicant, meaning each individual applying will need to pay the fee.
In addition to the application fee, most applicants will be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) when submitting their application. The IHS covers the relevant visa period, which is either 30 months or 5 years. The current rate for the IHS is £624 per visa holder per year. However, there is a reduced rate for children. For a 5-year visa, this amounts to £3,120 per adult and £2,350 for applicants under 18 years of age.
Furthermore, each applicant will need to pay an additional fee of £19.20 to submit their biometric information. This fee covers the cost of capturing fingerprints and a photograph.
It is important to budget for these fees when preparing your BN(O) visa application, as they are mandatory and non-refundable.
The Hong Kong BNO visa was created to protect the rights of UK citizens holding a Hong Kong passport, and has opened up countless opportunities for global mobility from the UK. This visa gives its holders access to UK government services, as well as improved access to work, study, healthcare and travel opportunities.
The recent developments in the Hong Kong BNO visa scheme have major implications for those looking to travel overseas from the UK. This visa scheme provides those affected by the recent events in Hong Kong with easier access to move to the UK, start a new life and gain access to services that they may not have had access to before.
Overall, the BNO visa scheme provides numerous benefits for global mobility from the UK, making life easier for those from Hong Kong who are looking to take advantage of all its benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions