The BNO visa route, which opened on 31 January 2021, and which is available to British National Overseas (“BNO”) citizens whose permanent home is either in Hong Kong or the UK, and their family members, has already received almost 5,000 applications. It has been reported that a significant portion of these applications have come from individuals already in the UK holding Leave Outside of the Rules.
Between July and January, it is estimated that nearly 7,000 BNO status holders and their dependents entered the UK as a direct result of developments in Hong Kong, and were granted with Leave Outside of the Rules.
If the current application rate were to be sustained, it is estimated that nearly 150,000 BNO route applications could be lodged by the end of 2021.
The overall estimated number of potential applications is much higher. It is estimated that there are currently 350,000 Hongkongers with BNO passports. It is further estimated that there are potentially 2.5 million Hongkongers who are eligible for a BNO passport, which in turn would potentially make them eligible for the BNO visa route. An additional 2.5 million dependents would become eligible for this route in conjunction with their BNO family member.
This is a potential total of some 5.4 million applicants who could apply under this visa route, and at present, the UK Government has placed no limit on the number of applications it will accept.
Whilst it is encouraging to see a quick and clear government response, followed by tangible procedures, the potential scope of immigration under this route comes at an uncertain time, as the UK battles against the impact of COVID-19, a rising unemployment rate and the considerable pressures being felt by the country’s public services.
The BNO route provides a route to settlement in the UK after five years, and in line with current British nationality law, provide a potential route towards naturalizing as a British citizen.
If you would like to discuss your or your family’s individual circumstances with respect to the BNO visa route, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.
Paralegal in our General Immigration Team