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BRITISH NATIONAL OVERSEAS (BNO) VISA

The British National (Overseas) visa or BNO visa is for people from Hong Kong with BNO status to live, work and study in the UK.

BN(O) status is a form of British nationality created for people from Hong Kong so they could retain a form of British nationality and a connection to the UK after the handover to China in 1997 in line with the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

There are two pathways under the Hong Kong BN(O) route in the rules: the BN(O) Status Holder Route and the BN(O) Household Member route.

The BN(O) Status Holder route is for BN(O) status holders, their partner or spouse, their dependent children or grandchildren under the age of 18, and an adult relative with a high degree of dependency on the BN(O) or the BN(O)'s partner.

The BN(O) Household Member route allows an adult child of a BN(O) status holder or of the partner of a BN(O) status holder born after the handover on 1 July 1997 to apply on the as a dependant of a BN(O) status holder or their partner where they form part of the same household. The BN(O) Household Member's partner or spouse and dependent children can also apply with the BN(O) Household Member.

The BN(O) Status Holder and BN(O) Household Member routes ensure that family households can move to the UK together, provided that family members are part of the same household as the BN(O) status holder.

Applicants must meet financial requirements and must be able to prove they can adequately maintain and accommodate themselves in the UK for 6 months without access to public funds.

Applicants will not have to meet the financial requirement if they have already been living in the UK for 12 months when they apply for permission to stay on the Hong Kong BN(O) route.

Applicant must have an ordinary residence in Hong Kong if they are applying from outside the UK or in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Hong Kong if they are applying in the UK
 

Visa Entitlements


Applicants will be able to apply for permission for either 5 years or 2 years and 6 months. Successful applicants will be able to work in almost any capacity and study in the UK. They will not be able to access public funds. The applicant will be able to extend their visa as many times as they want if they wish to stay longer.

Applicant can apply to settle in the UK (known as 'indefinite leave to remain') after they've lived in the UK for 5 years on a BNO visa.

Frequently asked questions

How long is the visa valid?


Applicant can apply to stay for either 2 years and 6 months (or 30 months) or 5 years. They will be able to extend their visa (as many times as you want) if they want to stay longer.




How much funds (financial requirement) do I need?


Applicant, including their dependents, must be able to prove they can adequately maintain and accommodate themselves in the UK for 6 months without access to public funds.

Applicants can rely on credible offers of financial support and/or accommodation from a third party (for example, a relative or friend) to meet this requirement. The test for adequate maintenance is whether the applicant can show that, after their accommodation costs have been paid, they have at least as much money as they would if their family were receiving income support in the UK.

The level of funds required depends on how many family members are applying, for example:




What does 'ordinary resident' mean?


Applicants who have submitted an application for entry clearance must be outside the UK and must show they are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong at the date of application.

Ordinary residence has the following features:

  • it is a regular, habitual mode of life in a particular place
  • its continuity has persisted despite temporary absences
  • it may be of long or short duration
  • it must be lawful
  • it must have been adopted voluntarily
  • it must be for a settled purpose
Periods of absence do not necessarily mean that a person's ordinary residence has ceased. Applicants for the Hong Kong BN(O) route can apply for entry clearance from any country outside the UK but must be able to demonstrate their ordinary residence in Hong Kong.

For example, students studying abroad, business people working away from Hong Kong or applicants visiting family overseas when they apply for the Hong Kong BN(O) route would usually meet the requirement for ordinary residence in Hong Kong. However, an applicant for the Hong Kong BN(O) route with a permanent or settled immigration status in another country would likely not meet the ordinary residence requirement for entry clearance.




Can I switch within the UK?


Applicant who meets the requirements of BNO visa can switch within the UK if they are already in the UK on a different visa. Family members will need to apply at the same time as the main applicant.




Rights of Dependants?


Dependants (including children under 18 years of age or husband, wife, civil partner, unmarried partner or same-sex partner) will be eligible to live and stay in the UK with the main applicant. They can live and work in the UK without any restrictions. They will be granted leave in line with the expiry date of the main applicant's leave.

Dependants will have the following conditions attached to their leave:

  • No recourse to public funds;
  • Work (except you cannot work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach)
  • Study (including at school, college or university)




When can I apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or settlement visa?


Applicant can apply to settle in the UK (known as 'indefinite leave to remain') after they've lived in the UK for 5 years on a BNO visa. The period where an applicant has spent in the UK on a different visa may count towards the 5 years. Time spent on a student visa (previously called a Tier 4 (General) student visa) or a Youth Mobility Scheme visa (T5) will not be counted.




How many days am I allowed to stay outside the UK to apply for ILR?


An applicant must complete a continuous residence period of 5 years. In order to meet the continuous residency requirement, applicants under the BNO visa category should not be outside the UK for more than 180 whole days in any of the three consecutive 12-month periods, preceding the date of the application for indefinite leave to remain (ILR).




Processing Times?


In line with the Home Office service standards for processing UK visa applications for BNO visa, they decide within 3 weeks if applying from outside UK and within 8 weeks, if applying within UK.




Immigration Health Surcharge?


The Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) was introduced by the Home Office on 6 April 2015. People coming to the UK for more than six months have to pay this health surcharge as a part of their immigration application towards the National Health Service (healthcare in the UK). Offshore applicants will have to pay the health surcharge if they are applying for a visa for a period of longer than six months, and the onshore applicant will have to pay the health charge for any length of visa.

Adult applicants will have to pay £1,560 if they are staying for 2 years and 6 months or £3,120 if they are staying for 5 years. .

For each child (under 18), it costs £1,175 if they are staying for 2 years and 6 months or £2,350 if they are staying for 5 years.

Visa application will not be granted if applicants do not pay the healthcare surcharge or application will be delayed if the right amount is not paid. .




Biometric Requirement?


Non-EEA nationals applying under BNO visa have to apply for a biometric residence permit.

The biometric residence permit is a residence permit which holds a migrant's biographic details (name, date and place of birth) and biometric information (facial image and fingerprints), and shows their immigration status and entitlements while they remain in the UK. This also means that a UK visa will no longer be stamped in the applicant's passport and all applicants will be issued one of the new Biometric visa cards instead. These cards look very similar to a (pink) UK driving license, except they have a microchip in the back. .

Once the application for BNO visa is submitted online, applicants are required to attend their biometric appointment at one of the Visa Application Centers to provide their fingerprints, photo and signature. .

Successful offshore applicants will receive a 30-day' vignette sticker' in their passport instead of a vignette with the full grant of leave. This 30-day visa will be the date they indicated as their intended travel date in their visa application. Applicants under Skilled worker visa will be required to collect their BRP from the Post Office branch detailed in their decision letter within ten days of arrival in the UK. The Post Office branch is linked to the postcode that they submitted in their visa application. The BRP card can then be used as proof of right to work, study and access public services in the UK. .




Conditions of Stay?


Applicants will have the following conditions attached to their leave:

  • No recourse to public funds;
  • Study (including at school, college or university), subject to the requirement to obtain an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate if required
  • No employment as a professional sportsperson (including as a sports coach).
  • Registration with the police for certain passport holders over the age of 16




Government Fees?