The Hong Kong BNO visa route allows applicants who are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, UK and Channel Islands to apply for a visa to live in the UK. The applicant must be a holder of British National (Overseas) status and, if residing outside the UK, must have a permanent home in Hong Kong. Hong Kong BNO nationals who reside in the UK or Channel Islands can also apply to switch into this category.

The BNO route allows the main applicant to bring family members. The route leads to settlement or ILR after 5 years and to full British citizenship after further 12 months, subject to meeting the requirements. 

Requirements for the Hong Kong BNO visa

There are three main requirements for the BNO visa application:

  • You must be a British National (Overseas) status holder;
  • You must be resident in Hong Kong or UK
  • You must be able to support and accommodate yourself financially in the UK
  • You must meet suitability requirements

BNO Status Requirements

It is not possible to apply for a BNO status unless you are already a British National (Overseas) status holder. British overseas territories citizens by connection with Hong Kong were able to register as a British National (Overseas) before 1 July 1997. Those who did not register themselves could have acquired the BNO status on 1 July 1997 automatically if by 30 June 1997 they had no other nationality. 

Some children under 18 years of age could have been registered by being added to the passport of their parents. The children who were born between 1 January 1997 and 30 June 1997 could have been registered at any point prior to 30 September 1997. 

The BNO status allowed holders to carry a British passport and acquire consular assistance and protection from UK diplomatic posts. In certain circumstances, it was possible for BNO status holders to register as British nationals. 

Hong Kong Residency Requirements

To be eligible for the BNO visa, the applicant must be an ordinary resident of Hong Kong. Ordinary residence 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

The assessment of ordinary residence is rather a pragmatic one. The applicant will need to provide evidence from a non-exhaustive list below. Generally, any absences overseas will not prevent a person from applying, for example, a student studying overseas or an employee being sent overseas for a job posting. 

However, a permanent or settled status in another country may mean that ordinary residence requirement is not met, it is important to get this assessed thoroughly before applying.  

Examples of evidence of ordinary residence in Hong Kong:

  • an official Hong Kong ID card
  • a letter from an employer confirming their employment in Hong Kong
  • a visa or residence permit or other immigration documents (a colour photocopy would be acceptable) showing residence in Hong Kong
  • an educational record, for example, a school report
  • tax records
  • records of rent or mortgage payments
  • payslips
  • household or utility bills

For people applying inside the UK for leave to remain, the evidence of UK residence instead be required. This may be, for example, various UK utility bills, bank statements, employment evidence, immigration documents etc. The list is non-exhaustive. 

Financial requirement for BNO Hong Kong visa

Persons applying for the BMO visa will need to provide evidence to show that the main applicant and all the dependants applying can be maintained and accommodated adequately for 6 months without recourse to public funds. There is no specified amount of money the applicant must hold and various evidence can be provided to show that the requirement is met. It is also possible to provide offers of employment or financial support from third parties, for example, relatives in the UK who will offer accommodation and funds. The applicant will need to show that after the accommodation costs have been paid, there will be at least as much money available as if you were receiving income support in the UK. 

Family Members for BNO Visa for Nationals of Hong Kong

The Immigration Rules have very generous provisions in place for family members of BNO passport holders. For most other visa routes, for example, a skilled worker visa or UK ancestry visa, main applicants can only apply for a spouse and children under 18 years of age. A dependant for BNO visa is more generous, any of the following can apply:

  • spouse or civil partner
  • unmarried partner
  • child (under the age of 18 when they first applied)
  • adult child born on or after 1 July 1997 (and their partner or child under the age of 18) who normally lives with you
  • other family members in exceptional circumstances where there is a high level of dependency who normally live with you

Family members can hold any nationality. The provisions above allow most family members to apply together with the main applicant. 

Important, BNO Passport holders must apply together with their family members, even though they may decide to travel to the UK separately. If family members decide to apply once the main BNO status holder has been issued with the visa, their applications will be refused. 

Duration of BNO visa

The visa can be issued for either 2 years and 6 months or 5 years. Those who apply for the former will need to extend their visa after two and a half years for a further period of two and a half years in order to be eligible to apply for settlement or the ILR as a BNO visa holder. 

Application Fees for BNO visa

The application will cost per applicant:

  • £180 for a visa issued for 2 years and 6 months
  • £250 for a 5 years visa

In addition to the fees above, each adult applicant will need to pay Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £624 per year of visa issued, for example:

  • £1,560 for a visa issued for 2.5 years 
  • £3,120 for a visa issued for 5 years

IHS fee for children under 18 under BNO route is slightly lower:

  • £1,175 for a visa issued for 2.5 years 
  • £2,350 for a visa issued for 5 years

The application must be submitted online. The applicants can also use the app to verify their identity.

Why Edmans & Co for BNO visa application for Hong Kong nationals?

Our London immigration lawyers can assist with your application for a BNO visa and that of your family members. Our lawyers can make sure the documents provided in support of the application are sufficient to meet the requirements of the Immigration Rules. 

We will also assist with filling the application forms, prepare a cover letter with the representations on a client’s behalf and submit the application to the Home Office. We will continue to act on the case until the decision is taken by the Home Office and will chase them if the need arises.

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