The UK raised its concerns after China imposed its national security law in Hong Kong. In its policy statement released in July 2020, UK saying that the country wants to open a window for the BN (O) citizens in Hong Kong to come to the UK to live and work if they wish to. On 22 October 2020 UK Government has released a statement that talks about the changes to the new immigration rules including BN (O)overseas visa route's legal framework. Now all BN (O) holders can apply for BN (O) overseas visa route from 31 January 2021 with their family members. Once granted a BN (O) visa they can work, study and use the National Health Service (NHS) and their children under the age of 18 can attend school.
What is BN (O) overseas visa?
BN (O) or British National (Overseas) visa is a class of British Nationality granted to Hong Kong residents in 1997 before the UK handed over the sovereignty to China. BN (O) holders are British Nationals but not a British citizen. This means that when they enter the UK they are subject to immigration control and thus they don't enjoy the right of abode automatically in the UK or Hong Kong. However, all BN (O)s became permanent residents in Hong Kong after getting BN(O) status.
Requirements for new Hong Kong BN (O) visa
In 2020 UK has cleared the path for Hong Kong BN (O) visa route. The followings are the requirements that one needs to meet in order to apply for the visa.
- You must be a BN (O) citizen.
- You need to submit your passport even though it has expired already. However, you don't need to submit a valid BN (O) passport to prove that you are a BN (O) citizen. If you have lost your passport you don't need to apply for a new one.
- You must meet the residency requirements meaning that if you apply from outside the UK you need to show that you and your family (if applying with them) members live in Hong Kong and if you apply from inside the UK you must be living in the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man or Hong Kong
- You must show that you can support yourself and your family members (if applicable) financially for at least 6 months in the UK. You can show this through documents like bank account statement, your income statement, etc.
- You must have accommodation in the UK for you and your family members (if applicable) to live.
- If you apply from Hong Kong or from a country where UK mandates it to submit a Tuberculosis (TB) result then you must provide a TB test certificate from an approved center if you have been living there for the past 6 months. If you apply from inside the UK then there can be 2 situations. One in which you were granted a leave of 6 months or less, you must provide a TB test certificate from an approved center in the UK. Two, you were granted a leave of more than 6 months, you don't need to provide a TB test certificate if you already had submitted a TB test certificate.
When to apply?
The BN(O) visa route application will open on 31 January 2021.
How to apply?
You can apply online. You and your family members should apply together. If your family members fail to apply with you it will not be possible for them to apply for BN (O) visa later to join you. If you want to apply with your family members you need to apply first after which you will get a unique reference number. After that, your family members can apply using this unique reference number in their applications.
If there are children applying as well then they must apply with both of their parents. However, there are some exceptions to this as well.
Cost of application
You need to pay £180 per applicant as an application fee and £1,560 for each adult and £1,1175 for each child under the age of 18 as an immigration health surcharge for a 30 months stay in the UK. The application fee for 5 years stay in the UK is £250 per applicant while the immigration health surcharge for each adult and each child under the age of 18 is £3,120 and £2,350 respectively.
Settlement and citizenship
You can apply for indefinite leave to remain
in the UK once you have completed 5 years of residency in the UK. After 12 months of ILR, you can apply for citizenship.
For more information visit: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/hong-kong-british-national-overseas-visa-applications#who-can-apply