The Hong Kong BN(O) visa was successfully launched on 31 January 2021. Thousands of BN(O) citizens and their eligible family members have since applied to live, work and study in the UK under this visa. This is in addition to the approximately 9000 BN(O) status holders and their dependants that have been granted Leave Outside the Rules at the border between 15 July 2020 and 16 February 2021.
The visa can be requested for 2 years and 6 months or 5 years.
To be eligible BN(O) citizens and their dependants must:
- Be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong
- Be able to accommodate and support themselves in the UK for at least 6 months
- The maintenance requirement will depend on how many family members are applying with you.
- Demonstrate a commitment to learn English
- Have a current tuberculosis test certificate from a clinic approved by the Home Office
- Have no serious criminal convictions
- Have not otherwise engaged in behaviour deemed not conducive to the public good
- Pay the visa fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
Those who wish to stay longer can extend their visa as many times as they want.
Initially, individuals had to finalise their application by attending a Visa Application Centre to provide their biometric data. However, on 23 February 2021 the Home Office have digitalized the application process allowing UK and overseas applications to be submitted via the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ smartphone app. It has only been enabled for BN(O), HKSAR or EEA biometric passport holders to submit their biometrics and validate their identity.
Testing revealed that the app has difficulties reading the chip on HKSAR passports, issued before summer 2019. Therefore, the Home Office advise applicants to use their valid BN(O) passports instead. Those who don’t have a valid BN(O) passport but are BN(O) status holders, can apply for a BN(O) passport before the visa application. The passport application process currently takes approximately 4-6 weeks and costs £106.
If applicants are unable to scan their HKSAR or BN(O) passport chip they will need to attend an appointment at a Visa Application Centre if in Hong Kong or at a UKVCAS location if in the UK. It is not possible to use one passport for the visa application form and another passport for the biometrics and ID verification via the app.
Applicants who attend an appointment to enrol their biometrics will receive a visa vignette sticker in their passport allowing them to travel within 90 days of the date of the vignette. Those who used the smartphone app must travel to the UK before their visa expires.
Once the application has been approved, individuals can travel to the UK using any valid passport – they do not have to use the passport they applied with.
BN(O) status holders currently in the UK on a visa or 6 months visit visa that has expired between 1 July 2020 and 31 January 2021 can switch into a BN(O) visa.
Be quick though as you have only until 31 March 2021 to apply.
If you have lived in the UK for 5 years you may be able to apply for settlement. Time spent on a Global Talent, Entrepreneur, Investor, Skilled Worker/Tier 2 General, Minister of Religion, Sportsperson, Representative of an Overseas Business and UK Ancestry visa will count towards the 5 years.
If you require any further information, contact Migrate UK 01235 841 568 or email@example.com