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The UK Announces New Bespoke Visa Route for Hong Kong BN(O) Residents Wishing to Relocate to the UK

The UK Government has announced a new bespoke visa, the Hong Kong BN(O) visa, which will give British National (Overseas) (“BN(O)”) citizens the ability to relocate to the UK to live, work, and study. This is in light of the new National Security Law imposed in Hong Kong by the Chinese Government. This new route will open in January 2021.

The new Hong Kong BN(O) visa is a significant change to the UK immigration system.

The key aspects are:

  • BN(O) citizens, ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, will be able to apply for a five-year visa, with the option to then apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (“ILR”) in the UK and subsequently, British citizenship 12 months later (if all the requirements are met).
  • BN(O) citizens in the UK will be able to switch to the Hong Kong (BN(O)) visa without departing from the UK.
  • In exceptional circumstances, BN(O) citizens and their family members arriving in the UK before January 2021 may be able to apply for “Leave Outside the Rules” for a period of 6 months, and then switch to the Hong Kong (BN(O)) visa.

Family Members

Spouses, partners and children under the age of 18 can be included as dependants on the application.

In addition, children born after 1 July 1997 to a BN(O) parent, who are over 18, and who are still dependent on a BN(O) parent, may also apply to come to the UK, if applying as a family unit.

Working or Studying in the UK

BN(O) citizens coming to the UK will have access to the job market at any skill level. A salary threshold will not be applied, and they will be permitted to work as self-employed.

Applicants will be entitled to apply to higher education institutions to study in the UK.

UK Residence

Individuals coming to the UK via this new route will be able to apply for settlement/ ILR once they have lived in the UK for 5 years. After a further 12 months, they will be able to apply for British citizenship. Different requirements apply at each stage.

Further Criteria when Relocating to the UK

  • It is not necessary to hold a valid BN(O) passport, however it is necessary to demonstrate the main applicant holds BN(O) status.
  • A valid passport will be required as proof of identity.
  • Individuals wishing to travel to the UK before January 2021 are able to do so, subject to the usual immigration requirements – a BN(O) citizen may come to the UK as a visitor for up to 6 months, without a visa.

Additional Information

This Information Note is based on the UK Government’s Policy Statement published in July 2020, and the final rules may be subject to change.

If you have any questions regarding the Hong Kong BN(O) visa route, or would like tailored advice on any UK immigration matters, please contact Vincent Chung at: advice@dixcartlegal.com or to your usual Dixcart contact.

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