23/09/2020 | Immigration News
| Bethany Wong
In June 2020 the Secretary of State for the Home Department opened a new immigration route for Hong Kong’s British National (Overseas) citizens - or BN(O) citizens and their families to enter the UK following the politically divisive national security law. Through this immigration route, qualified individuals will be able to apply for permanent residency and British citizenship after five years. The BN(O) Visa route will be open for applications from January 2021.
How to qualify for the BN(O) Visa for Hong Kong nationals
To be eligible for the BN(O) visa, you will need to satisfy the following requirements:
- The applicant must have BN(O) citizenship Status: BN(O) citizenship statuses were given to people who were previously British Overseas Territories citizen by connection with Hong Kong who registered for BN(O) citizenship before 1997 when the sovereignty of Hong Kong was handed back to China by the UK. If you are not already a BN(O) status holder, you cannot apply to become one. The effect of a BN(O) status allows the holder to stay in the UK for up to 6 months without a visa, subject to immigration control.
- BN(O) citizenship status cannot pass their status down to their children: so there is only a limited number of BN(O) status holders in the world. However, immediate family members of BN(O) status holders, including partners, spouses, or children under 18 years old are eligible to apply for the BN(O) Visa. An estimate of 2.9 million people in Hong Kong has BN(O) statuses of which 300,000 people are currently holding a valid BN(O) passport. An individual's BN(O) Visa status is recognised regardless of whether or not the individual has a valid passport.
- You can prove your BN(O) status using a valid or expired BN(O) citizen passport: If you don't have a BN(O) passport, the Home Office may be able to look at records to check your status.
- The applicant must be a Hong Kong Resident: The Main Applicant and family members must have Hong Kong as their usual place of residence.
- Show evidence that you can support and finance your needs: The main applicant and their dependants must demonstrate they can provide their own accommodation and financial income once they arrive in the UK. This is vitally important because new BN(O) Visa citizens living in the UK on a visa won't be eligible to access public funds such as social welfare benefits.
- Demonstration of good character: do not commit crimes, do not engage in behaviour not conducive to the public good, and do not be subject to other general grounds for refusal.
- Learn the English language: Must show a commitment to learning the English language where appropriate.
- Tuberculosis (TB) test certificate: Where necessary, the principal applicant and dependants must show they are free from TB. A valid health certificate can be obtained from any clinic approved by the Home Office.
- Fees: Pay the application fee and Immigration Health Surcharge fee to gain access to the NHS.
Can I work and study in the UK with a BN(O) Visa?
Yes, BN(O) Visa holders can work and study in the UK. The Secretary of State is not imposing skills tests on applicants, nor do they need to prove they have a job before coming to the UK- they can look for work once arrived.
The BN(O) Visa paves the way for British Citizenship
After living in the UK for five years with the BN(O) Visa, during which time you stayed away from crime, supported yourself financially, and otherwise complied with the terms of your visa, you will be able to apply for settled status. After a further year, you may apply for British citizenship.
Making a BN(O) Visa application with OneLaw Chambers
At OneLaw Chambers, our immigration solicitors and barristers regularly assist with Immigration and Visa applications in order for applicants to relocate to and settle in the UK. We have assisted many foreign nationals to prepare and submit successful Immigration and Visa applications and we have represented clients from all over the world. We are well equipped to preprare and submit your BN(O) Visa application when the route to apply opens by the UK Home Office in January 2021.
Whether you require expert immigration advice on the requirements of the Immigration Rules, an independent immigration assessment of your prospects of qualifying for a BN(O) Visa or professional immigration representation with preparing your BN(O) Visa immigration application, our immigration solicitors and barristers can help you.