Dawn of a new Hong Kong BN(O) Visa
On 22nd July 2020, the UK government published detailed contents on the new immigration route for British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) passport holders and their dependants in Hong Kong. Its emergence is evinced from the UK’s retaliation to the newly enacted national security laws in Hong Kong by the central government of Beijing.
These national security laws have been claimed to violate the very basis agreed between the UK and mainland China back in 1997, which gives Hong Kong its own ‘westernised’ system and independent national security and judiciary. This contravention will thus threaten the liberal and democratic freedoms that Hong Kong enjoys, which has subsequently triggered an international response. For more information on the details of the new provisions, please view our previous publications.
As of January 2021, this recently developed visa route will be open to BN(O) citizens and their family members. Applicants will be able to apply from either inside or outside of the UK.
Initially, the duration of this visa route is 30 months. This may be extended by an additional 30 months or a fixed period of 5 years. During these time frames, visa applicants can work and study in the UK, but they will not benefit from public funds such as social welfare benefits.
Once approved, applicants who have resided in the UK for a 5-year period will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). After a further 12-month period, they can qualify for British citizenship.
Individuals must demonstrate the following criteria:
- BN(O) status
- Proof that the individual usually resides in Hong Kong
- Ability to financially support and accommodate themselves in the UK for a minimum of 6 months
- Commitment to learn English
- Obtainment of a tuberculosis (TB) test certificate from a clinic endorsed by the Home Office
- Payment of a fee and the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
For individuals who do not qualify for existing immigration routes into the UK, UK officials may consider such individuals for ‘Leave Outside the Rules’ upon arrival at the UK border. This will be up to 6 months for them and their family members.
To qualify for ‘Leave Outside the Rules’, individuals must demonstrate:
- Their identity- requires a valid and up to date passport
- Their BN(O) status- requires either a valid or expired BN(O) passport
- They usually reside in Hong Kong
- Their ability to financially support and accommodate themselves in the UK
- Evidence of any non-BN(O) dependant’s family links to the applicant – this could be a spouse or civil partner, unmarried partner, a child who is a minor or other family members who show high levels of dependency on the applicant
Should individuals be granted ‘Leave Outside the Rules’, they and their dependants can work and study but cannot access public funding nor use the NHS without paying for its services (unless they are free services) whilst in the UK.
Should you have any queries regarding the above information or if you require legal assistance with your visa application, please get in touch with a legal professional at Hudson McKenzie via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone +44 (0)20 3318 5794.