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Almost 65,000 Hong Kong applicants for BN(O) visa

The UK British Nationals (Overseas) Visa for eligible Hong Kong residents was launched in early 2021 and has seen almost 65,000 applicants to date.

If you are interested in exploring your immigration options to work or settle in the UK, contact our team of immigration lawyers for an immediate discussion about how we can assist you.

Call 0333 305 9375 or use the online contact form to get in touch.

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    Nearly 73% of visa applications to date have been approved

    There have been approximately 64,900 BN(O) applications in the first five months of the new visa opening.

    The majority (74%) of these applications were submitted outside the UK, with the remaining submitted from within Britain.

    According to figures from the Home Office, the application figures consist of 27,900 primary applicants, with approximately 19,400 dependents.

    It is estimated that 5.4 million of Hong Kong’s 7.5 million residents are eligible to apply for the visa.

    The visa has a number of unique features and allows eligible applicants the ability to live, work, and study in the UK for five years, with the possibility of later applying for settlement and later citizenship if eligibility criteria are met.

    What is the British Nationals (Overseas) (BN(O)) Visa?

    The UK government issued a press release in January 2021 stating that in response to the Chinese government’s imposition of the National Security Law in Hong Kong in 2020, it had effectively breached international law and the UK was therefore offering BN(O) visa to Hong Kong citizens.

    According to the statement, the UK has launched this visa programme as a result of Chinese encroachment on previous agreements:

    “The UK committed to this visa following the imposition of the National Security Law imposed by the Chinese government in June 2020, in a clear breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

    The 1984 declaration is a legally binding treaty which commits to ensure the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and maintain Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.”

    If you have been granted the BN(O) visa, you may be entitled to the following:

    • You and eligible family members may live, study, and work in the UK without restriction
    • If eligible, you may apply for settlement (indefinite leave to remain (ILR)) after five years, and British citizenship after one year of holding ILR
    • You can access public services (e.g., schools and healthcare services)
    • You can work in the UK in almost any capacity
    • You have no recourse to public funds (except in exceptional circumstances)

    If you apply for, and are subsequently granted British citizenship, you can apply for a British passport as you naturalise to become a British citizen.

    The UK also allows for dual citizenship so it may not be necessary for you to renounce your Hong Kong citizenship.

    Visa application guidance

    As with all UK visas, the application process for this visa can be complex and require extensive supporting documentation to demonstrate how you meet the eligibility requirements.

    The Home Office published its guidance on the BN(O) Visa in April 2021, outlining the conditions of the visa and eligibility criteria for potential applicants.

    The most important requirements relating to the visa are outlined below.

    Item Eligibility criteria
    Who is eligible? – Primary applicant holds BN(O) status   – Primary residence is in Hong Kong, UK, or Crown Dependencies        – Sufficient maintenance and accommodation for six months     – Recent clear TB test certificate
    Who is ineligible? Applicants must not qualify for refusal under Part 9: Grounds for RefusalApplicants must not be in breach of immigration laws or alternatively, on immigration bail
    How can I apply? By submitting an application on the Gov.uk website
    How much does it cost? The cost of the BN(O) Visa is £180 for 30 months’ leave or £250 for five years
    Do I have to submit biometric information? It is required that visa holders provide facial biometrics (i.e., photograph)
    Do I have to pay the immigration healthcare surcharge? Yes, this must be paid by each applicant
    What can I do when I come to the UK? – No access to public funds is permitted    – Work is permitted (except as a professional sportsperson or sports coach)    – You may study     – You may be required to register with the police
    How long does the visa last for? It lasts for either 30 months or five years, depending on the preference of the applicant
    Can I bring my family members? It is possible to bring dependent partners and children with the main applicant.    Adult children and their partners and children and some adult dependent relatives may be eligible to apply with the main applicant.    Family members must apply at the same time
    Can I switch to the BN(O) category if I already live in the UK? Yes
    Can I apply for settlement? Yes, after five years of continuous residence
    Do I need to speak English? Not for this visa, but knowledge is required for the ILR application

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      How can IAS help me?

      Our team of immigration lawyers are well versed in all areas of UK immigration law. We can assist you with your application for the British Nationals (Overseas) Visa to help you and your loved ones come to the UK.

      We understand that it may be a frightening or worrying prospect to move to a new country. We aim to make the immigration process as smooth as possible for you and your family so that you can focus on settling and building your new life.

      By working with a dedicated immigration lawyer, we can assist you with the following services:

      • Assess your eligibility for your chosen route
      • Advise on the required supporting documents needed to submit with your case
      • Engage with your family members who are applying
      • Remain in constant communication with you throughout the process
      • Liaise with the UK Home Office on your behalf
      • Submit your application error-free and to the highest standard

      Contact us today to find out how we can assist you. We look forward to working with you. Phone 0333 305 9375 or use the online contact form and we can give you a call back to discuss your situation.

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