British National Overseas (BNO), is a citizenship that was created by the British nationality, which was created in 1985 so that people in Hong Kong could apply for before the 1997 handover to China, to remain a link with the UK. The old system had indicated that you could only visit the UK for 6 months without a Visa. However, the new systems show that, if you’re a British National overseas and you’re from Hong Kong, then you can apply for a British National overseas visa, to be able to live, work and study in the UK.
The British government are expecting approximately, 5.4 million Hong Kong residents who are eligible for this scheme.
2.9 million BNO's
2.3 million dependents of BNOs
187,000 people who are between the 18–23-year-olds with atleast one BNO parent
After the first 5 years you are able to apply for an indefinite leave to remain so you can live and work in the UK without reapplying for a visa. When the indefinite leave to remain is approved, after one year of the approval, you can apply for a British Citizenship.
You can apply if you are:
- 18 years old or older
- British national overseas
- Children under the age of 18 and must intend to live with their parent or carer
- A spouse, civil or unmarried partner
- Other family members, such as, parents, grandparents, brother, sister, son or daughter
How to apply
You're able to apply online on the GOV.UK website.
The are 2 application options which are:
- If you have a BNO, EEA biometric passport, or HKSAR, then you can apply using an app from 23rd February 2021, you can upload all the relevant documents on the app and of the visa is approved then you can collect the biometric residence permit (BRP) while you are in the UK.
- From 31st January 2021 onwards, all the BNO status holders can apply on the GOV.UK website. If you are applying from overseas, then you will be required to make an appointment at a VAC.
Duration of Stay
You are required to say for either 2 years and 6 months or for 5 years. However, if you would like to stay for a longer period of time, then you can apply for a visa extension as many times as you want.
Applying and travelling as a family
The Hong Kong BNO Visa is designed to enable a BNO status holder to come to the UK as a family unit. If you are applying as a family unit you have to apply together. The main applicant applies first to get a unique reference number, then you can apply as a whole family together.
Applying from within the UK
There have been some BNO holders who wanted to travel a lot sooner. In these circumstances, UK Border Force officers would have to grant leave outside the rules for a period of 6 months.
If you are a BNO and are currently in the UK, you do not need to apply straight away. Skilled workers and students can switch to this route if they want to remain in the UK.
People who want to apply for the Visa, will have to buy a Hong Kong BNO Visa. You will have to pay:
- £180 to apply to stay for 2 and a half years, and it can be extended by another 2 and a half years for a further fee of £180
- £250 to apply to stay for 5 years
Other nationals coming to the UK and are applying for the BNO Visa will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) in full, which is part of the application process.
For each Adult it will be:
- £1,560 if you are applying to stay for 30 months
- £3,120 if you are applying to stay for 5 years
For each child, under 18 years, it will be:
- £1,175 if you are applying to stay for 30 months
- £2,350 if you are applying for 5 years, once you have paid the IHS
What you can do with this Visa:
- Work anywhere, except for a professional sportsperson
- Study, which includes studying higher education courses
- Children can attend school if they are under the age of 18
- Be able to Attend education and training if they are aged between 16 to 19
What you cannot do with this Visa:
- Claim public funds
As part of the application process, BNO holders will need to provide evidence that they can support themselves and their family if they are moving to the UK too, for atleast 6 months when they are in the UK.
You can show evidence through:
- Bank statement
- Letter from family or friends with evidence that they have money to support you
The documents will need to be in English or in a language that provides a certified English translation. You will not need to provide documents and meet this requirement if you have been lobing in the UK for more than a year when you apply.