UK Announces Hong Kong BN(O) Visa
A new Hong Kong BN(O) Visa will give British National (Overseas) citizens the ability to come to the UK to make a new life.
The UK is creating a new immigration route for British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) citizens from Hong Kong, reflecting the unique and unprecedented circumstances in Hong Kong and the UK’s historic and moral commitment to BN(O)s.
The UK government has provided information on the new Hong Kong BN(O) Visa. The new visa route will create a route to enable British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) citizens ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, and their immediate family members, to move to the UK to work and study.
The UK government decided to open this new immigration route after the Chinese government’s decision to impose a new National Security Laws on Hong Kong and amid increasing tensions with Beijing, China. The UK has also immediately and indefinitely stopped the enforcement of an extradition treaty with Hong Kong.
The extradition treaty means, if a person in Hong Kong is suspected of a crime in the UK, then the UK authorities can ask Hong Kong to send them to the UK to face justice – and vice versa.
The Chinese government’s new national security law could see anyone that the UK government extradite to Hong Kong being sent on to China.
The new Hong Kong BN(O) Visa is a change to the UK immigration rules that will allow BN(O) citizens to apply for two periods of 30 months’ leave. After 5 years in this category, the applicant will be entitled to apply for indefinite leave to remain (ILR or commonly known as permanent residency). With ILR, the applicant will then be able to move to obtain British citizenship.
This new immigration route will give BN(O) citizens in Hong Kong the right to live, work or study in the UK and provides a route to full British citizenship.
In addition to providing a pathway for BN(O)s, this route will also enable those born after 1 July 1997 to a British National (Overseas) registered parent to apply to come to the UK.
On the 1st July 1997 the United Kingdom ended the administration for the colony of Hong Kong and returned control of the territory to China. The transfer of sovereignty over Hong Kong, is commonly known as the handover of Hong Kong.
Those born after 1 July 1997 were not eligible to become BN(O)s having been born after the UK’s handover of Hong Kong.
The new route, which applies to anyone born after the handover date to BN(O) citizens reflects the UK’s responsibility to its citizens that were left in Hong Kong after the handover.
“The UK has a strong historic relationship with the people of Hong Kong and we are keeping our promise to them to uphold their freedoms.
BN(O) citizens will now have a choice to come and live, work and study in the UK, building a new life for them and their family.
We look forward to welcoming BN(O) citizens to the UK.”Home Secretary Priti Patel
“Today’s announcement shows the UK is keeping its word: we will not look the other way on Hong Kong, and we will not duck our historic responsibilities to its people.”Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab
The new visa route is very generous and similar to those with UK Ancestry applications. BN(O) citizens coming to the UK can access the UK job market at any skill level and without salary threshold that exists with the UK Points Based System.
The route, much as with all other visa routes, will bar access to public funds.
In order for BN(O)s citizens to apply, they do not need to have a valid Hong Kong BN(O) passport. They’ll need a valid passport to show proof of identity, but this can be any applicable nationality passport. They can use a valid or expired BN(O) passport to show proof of BN(O) status. If you do not have a BN(O) passport, the Home Office may be able to check status without one.
The new Hong Kong BN(O) Visa route will open from January 2021. Eligible BN(O) citizens will be able to apply for this UK visa both inside and outside the UK. But you don’t have to wait If you wish to travel before the route opens.
There are three options for you if you want to travel to the UK in the meantime and apply when the new route is open:
- Currently, a BN(O) citizen can enter the UK as a visitor for up to six months without a visa, Or
- Apply for an existing visa route, Or
- Eligible BN(O) citizens unable to meet the Immigration Rules may be granted Leave Outside the Rules at the border.
Once you are in the UK, eligible BN(O) citizens will be able to switch to the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa route once it is open, from within the UK.
If you have any questions, leave comments below or reach out to your visa coordinator at IaM.