The UK government announced it would deliver on its commitment to open a new visa route for Hong Kong British National (Overseas) status holders and members of their household from 31 January 2021. This article explores the new visa route and who can apply.
Who is a British National (Overseas)?
Anyone who was a British overseas territories citizen in Hong Kong had the opportunity to register as a British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) before 1 July 1997. The Home Office has indicated that BNO status can be evidenced by a current or expired BN(O) passport.
Who can apply under the BN(O) Visa Route?
There are two main categories of person who can apply under the two separate BNO visa routes:
BN(O) Status Holder Route
The BN(O) Status Holder route is for a BN(O) citizen who is ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the UK and is over the age of 18. A dependent partner or dependent child (or grandchild) of a BN(O) citizen and, in exceptional circumstances, other family members with a high degree of dependency on the BN(O) citizen can also apply under this route.
BN(O) Household Member Route
The BN(O) Household Member route is for the adult child (born on or after 1 July 1997) of a BN(O) citizen. The BN(O) Household Member, and any dependent partner or child of a BN(O) Household Member must be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the UK and form part of the same household as the BN(O) citizen.
The eligibility requirements specified for each of the two routes must be met and applicants have the choice of whether they apply for a 30 month or five year visa.
Successful applicants are able to work and/or study in the UK, but will not be able to access public funds. Applicants can switch from another settlement route to the BNO route and may be eligible to apply for settlement after five continuous years living in the UK. This five year period can include periods of time spent in the UK in another visa category.
Fees for British National (Overseas) Applications
Applicants would need to complete the specified online application form and pay the Home Office application fee and the NHS surcharge at the time of application.
The application fee is £180 for the 30 month visa and £250 for the five year visa per applicant. These fees are significantly lower than most other visa application fees. The NHS surcharge for adults is currently £1,560 for 30 months and £3,120 for five years per applicant. The NHS surcharge for children is currently £1,175 for 30 months or £2,350 for five years per applicant.
From 23 February 2021, BN(O) status holders and their eligible family members who hold a biometric BN(O), Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or European Economic Area passport will be able to scan their passport on the mobile app and complete their application from home, rather than attend a visa appointment in person.
It is expected this will work similarly to the EU Settlement Scheme mobile app for applications under the EU Settlement Scheme.