Yesterday, 22nd of July 2020, further to past announcements the Home Office published The New Immigration Route for British Nationals (Overseas) in Hong Kong which will be available from January 2021.The UK government raised concerns about the national security legislation in Hong Kong and as promised created a new immigration route for BNO nationals and their family members.
THE NEW HONG KONG BN(O) VISA
Eligible candidates will be able to apply for this route from inside or outside the UK and the initial visa will be valid for 2.5 years with the possibility to extend for further 2.5 years. After 5 years of residency under this route they can apply for Indefinite leave to remain in the UK if they will meet the rules for continuous residence and suitability requirements.
The offer was defined a generous one; in fact, there are no skills tests, no minimum income requirements and no caps on numbers and no need to have a job offer before coming in the UK. Applicants will be able to bring immediate family members with them, including children over 18 if there are compassionate circumstances.
The visa holders will be able to reside, work and/or study in the UK. However, the Home Office expects them to be self-sufficient and to contribute to the UK society. BN(O) nationals will have access to National Health Service, having paid the Immigration Health Surcharge as part of their application and school aged children will have access to public education.
WHAT ARE THE REQUIREMENTS?
The applicants will need to meet certain conditions, including the following:
- They must be ordinarily residents in Hong Kong
- They must demonstrate their ability to maintain themselves for at least 6 months
- They must demonstrate a commitment to learn the English language
- Hold a current tuberculosis test confirming they are free from TB
- They must not have serious criminal convictions
- They will need to pay the appropriate visa fee and Immigration health surcharge.
The Home Office confirmed there will be a fee for the initial visa and the extension. The amount will be confirmed in due course.
THE APPLICATION PROCESS
The Visa will be via a digital online application, on similar to the EU Settlement Scheme and will in practice mean that the majority of applications can be completed online without the need to send in physical documents by post or be interviewed.
BN(O) citizens will not need to submit fingerprints biometrics but will simply have to provide facial scanning as part of the application process. Dependents who are not BN(O) citizens instead will need to give fingerprints. The visa will be open from January 2021.
British National (Overseas) passports were issued to people in Hong Kong by the UK before the transfer of the territory to Chinese sovereignty in 1997. The BNO holders have currently limited rights in the UK i.e visiting the UK for 6 months without a visa.
If for some reasons a BN(O) citizen is not eligible to enter the UK under the existing immigration route the Border Force Officer may allow to enter the UK for 6 months by granting a “Leave Outside the Immigration Rules” for 6 months. Evidences will need to be shown such us identity document, BNO citizen status, proof of residency in Hong Kong and proof that you can accommodate and support yourself financially and did not committed serious criminal offences. If the UK border is not satisfied of the eligibility, they may refuse entry provided there is a good reason.
We are waiting for further updates about the process and fees from Home Office.
If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.