What is the BNO visa?
The UK government introduced the British National Overseas (BNO) visa that allows Hong Kong nationals to live and work in the United Kingdom. This type of visa also provides a route to eventual British citizenship.
BNO citizenship was created in 1985 so that people living in Hong Kong could apply to be British nationals before the region was handed over to China in 1997.
Although people with BNO status are classed as British nationals, they do not hold full British citizenship. BNO status holders are not entitled to the same rights and freedoms as those holding full British citizenship and can only stay in the UK for up to six months at a time.
Following the Chinese government’s national security law in Hong Kong, the UK government has now introduced a new visa for BNO status holders. This allows BNO visa holders to live, work and study in the UK for either 2.5 or 5 years.
Eligibility and requirements
Whether you are eligible for a BNO visa will depend on your circumstances. To obtain this type of UK visa, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be over the age of 18
- Have British National Overseas status
- Be a resident of Hong Kong or the UK
Please note that if you are applying from outside the UK, you must be a resident of Hong Kong. If you are applying from within the UK, you must be living either in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
Anyone applying for this type of visa is also required to show proof they can provide both financial support and accommodation for themselves and their family for up to six months.
The amount of funds required will depend on the number of applicants applying for the visa. As a guide, you’ll need the following:
- £2000 for a single adult
- £3,100 for a couple with a child
- £4,600 for a couple with 2 children
How to apply for a British National Overseas visa
You can apply from overseas as a permanent resident of Hong Kong or from within the UK. If you are applying from within the UK, your permanent residence must be in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Hong Kong.
Regardless of where you are located, when applying for a BNO visa you must do so online. If you don’t feel comfortable using a computer or mobile device, or you don’t have any access to the internet then you can get help completing the online form. Please note this is only available to applicants located in the UK.
When making your application, you will need to prove your identity. The type of passport you have will dictate how you do this.
If you have a BNO, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) or EEA passport, you need to use the UK Immigration ID Check app.
Holders of any other passport will need to go to a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide fingerprints and photographs. By doing this, you will obtain your Biometric Residence Permit.
If you are already in the UK and you meet the requirements, you can apply to switch to the BNO visa.
Applying with family
If you’re making an application with family members, each applicant will need to submit their own application as your dependent. Bear in mind they must also apply for the same period of leave as you.
Once you submit your Hong Kong BNO visa application, you will receive a Global Web Form or a Unique Application Number which your family members must use. They will have 2 days to submit their own application.
What do I need to apply?
To apply for a BNO visa, the Home Office will need a copy of your passport or any other travel document that proves your identity and nationality.
You can also use a current or expired BNO British passport that will show your BNO status when you make your application. Please note this is not a requirement; you can still apply if you no longer have a BNO passport, although processing your application may take longer as the Home Office will need to check your status.
As a BNO citizen, you do not need your BNO passport to travel to the UK. You can travel on any passport or travel document.
How long should I expect to wait?
Once your British National Overseas visa application has been submitted, your identity has been proved and you have provided all your supporting evidence, you should expect to hear a decision within 12 weeks.
In some cases, your decision may take longer. There are a number of reasons your application may be delayed, including:
- Information is missing on your application
- Documents need to be verified
- You are required to attend an interview
- You have a criminal conviction that needs to be looked at
Other documentation needed to apply
As well as a passport and evidence to show that you can support yourself financially, you will need to provide some additional documentation when making an application for a BNO visa.
- Proof of adequate accommodation in the UK
- Proof you have a permanent home in Hong Kong, the UK, Channel Islands or Isle of Man
- Proof of your relationship with family members
- Tuberculosis (TB) test certificate
Please note that if any of the documentation you are providing is not in English or Welsh, you will need to provide official translation.
Duration of the Hong Kong BNO visa
When you make an application for a BNO visa, you have a choice of two options:
- 5 years visa
- 5-year visa
If you opt for a visa that only allows you to live, work and study in the UK for 2.5 years, once this visa expires you will then need to either leave the country or apply for an extension to your current visa. You can apply for as many extensions as you like.
Costs and fees
When making an application for a BNO visa, there are some costs involved. Again, the amount you pay will depend on the number of people included in the application. For each applicant, you’ll need to pay the following:
- Visa issued for 2.5 years – £180
- Visa issued for 5 years – £250
In addition to the application fee, each adult applicant will be required to pay an Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) of £624 for every year on your visa. This amounts to the following:
- Visa issued for 2.5 years – £1,560
- Visa issued for 5 years – £3,120
For children included on an application, the IHS fee will be slightly less. The IHS fee for children amounts to the following:
- Visa issued for 2.5 years – £1,175
- Visa issued for 5 years – £2,350
How Newcastle immigration lawyers can help
With over 50 years of experience working in this field, our Newcastle immigration lawyers have all the expertise to help with your application for a BNO visa.
We understand how complicated applying for visas can be, and we will guide you through the application process every step of the way, helping to ensure you receive the decision you desperately want.
Our Newcastle immigration lawyers will:
- Determine your eligibility
- Carry out and full, comprehensive document check to ensure all the relevant paperwork is submitted
- Complete your application form to the highest possible standard ensuring no mistakes
- Liaise with the Home Office whenever necessary
For more information, contact us now either by telephone or online and you’ll be put in touch with a member of our team as soon as possible.
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British National Overseas visa holders do not automatically get Indefinite Leave to Remain or British citizenship. Visa holders are recognised as British nationals and Commonwealth nationals.
They qualify to apply for ILR if they have lived in the UK for up to 5 years on a BNO visa. After a year of holding ILR, you can apply to become a British citizen.
You can bring family members with you to the UK on the Hong Kong BNO visa. Dependant family members are:
- Partners that are 18 or older (spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner)
- Children or grandchildren under the age of 18
- Children over the age of 18 that were born on or after 1st of Jul 1997, and the child’s partner or child are under 18
- Certain family members who live with you and are very dependent on you for care, for example, disabled or ill parent
If you are not married to or in a civil partnership with your partner, you must prove that you have been in a relationship with them and living with them for at least 2 years to bring them as dependants.
Also, note that if you bring your child under 18 as a dependant, they must apply with both parents, unless one parent or grandparent is the sole parent or guardian.