Following the introduction of the Chinese national security law and the crackdown on pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, the UK Government announced last year that a new Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (“BN(O)”) visa route would be made available to eligible Hong Kong nationals. It has now been confirmed that the new visa route will open on 31 January 2021.
Who is eligible?
The new route will be open to BN(O) citizens and their immediate family members (even if those immediate family members are not BN(O) citizens themselves) who are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the UK. In exceptional circumstances, other family members who are able to demonstrate a high degree of dependency on the BN(O) citizens may also apply.
The main applicant must be a BN(O) citizen under the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986.
What are the requirements?
Where an application for a BN(O) visa is made from outside the UK, the applicant must be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong. Applicants seeking permission to stay in the UK must be ordinarily resident in the UK, Isle of Man, Channel Islands or Hong Kong.
There is a financial requirement to evidence the ability to adequately maintain and accommodate oneself (and/or dependants) in the UK for a minimum of at least six months. There is, however, no minimum threshold for savings, salary or income. In addition, where applicable, there is a requirement to undergo tuberculosis testing at an approved test centre. There is no English language requirement for the initial application.
What are the visa holders’ entitlements?
Visa holders will be able to study and undertake work in almost any job role, including being self-employed. Visa holders will not, however, have access to public funds.
What is the route to settlement?
Visa holders will be able to apply for indefinite leave to remain in the UK after five years. Time spent on a visa that leads to settlement will count towards the five years required. Visa holders will need to prove that they meet the English language requirements, have passed the Life in the UK test and have not been absent from the UK for more than 180 day in any 12 months in the previous five-year period relied on for the settlement application.
Children under 18 and highly dependent adult family members can only apply for settlement if the main BN(O) applicant is applying for settlement at the same time or has already been granted settlement.
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