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British National Overseas (BNO)

The Hong Kong British National Overseas Visa (BNO) allows those from Hong Kong who are considered British Nationals (Overseas) and over 18 to live and work in the UK.


The Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa, introduced in January 2021, offers a new immigration pathway for British National Overseas (BNO) citizens in Hong Kong to live, study, work, and eventually settle in the UK. There are two main options available for BNO Visa applicants:

  1. 2-Year and 6-Month BNO Visa: This option allows for a stay of up to 2 years and 6 months in the UK.
  2. 5-Year BNO Visa: Applicants can choose to apply for a 5-year BNO Visa.

After living lawfully in the UK for a certain period, typically five years, BNO Visa holders can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR), which is a form of settlement in the UK. ILR grants individuals the freedom to live and work in the UK indefinitely.

Furthermore, BNO Visa holders who have been granted ILR can eventually apply for British citizenship after holding ILR for at least 12 months. British citizenship provides various benefits, including the ability to obtain a British passport.

BNO Visa applications can be submitted both from within the UK and from outside of the UK. It is important to provide accurate documentation and meet the visa requirements, and the application process may involve biometric appointments and other necessary steps.

Please note that immigration policies and eligibility criteria may evolve over time, so it is advisable to refer to official government sources or consult with immigration lawyers for the latest information on the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa.


Who can apply for the BNO Visa UK

The eligibility criteria for the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) (BNO) Visa are as follows:

  1. To be eligible, you must be 18 years or older.
  2. You can apply for a BNO Visa if you are either a British national (overseas) or a child of a British national (overseas) who was born on or after 1st July 1997. For adult children born on or after this date, it is now possible to apply independently of their parents, thanks to changes introduced in February 2022.
  3. Applicants must be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong if applying from outside the UK. Alternatively, you can apply from the UK if your permanent home is in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or Hong Kong.
  4. There is no English language requirement for the initial BNO Visa application. However, if you plan to apply for settlement in the UK (Indefinite Leave to Remain) after five years, you will need to demonstrate a good knowledge of the English language.
  5. Applicants must not have any serious criminal convictions. Additionally, they should not have engaged in behavior that the UK Government considers not conducive to the public good and must not be subject to other general grounds for refusal as outlined in the Immigration Rules.

Eligible applicants who meet these criteria can consider applying for the BNO Visa. Keep in mind that immigration rules and requirements are subject to change, so it is advisable to consult with official government sources or immigration authorities for the most up-to-date information and guidance regarding the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Visa.

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Frequently Asked Questions

As a British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) Visa holder in the UK, you are granted certain privileges and may engage in various activities. Here is a summary of what you can and can’t do on a BN(O) Visa:

What You Can Do:

  1. You have the right to reside in the UK during your BN(O) Visa validity period.
  2. You can work in the UK, pursue employment opportunities, and engage in professional activities.
  3. BN(O) Visa holders can enroll in educational courses and pursue studies at UK institutions.

What You Can’t Do:

  1. You are not permitted to work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach in the UK.
  2. Generally, BN(O) Visa holders are not eligible to claim public funds while in the UK. This includes welfare benefits and certain forms of financial assistance.

In some specific circumstances, BN(O) visa holders may be eligible to apply for benefits if they meet certain criteria. This includes situations where they:

– Don’t have a place to live and cannot afford accommodation.

– Have a place to live but cannot cover essential living costs such as food or heating.

– Are at risk of losing their home or being unable to afford essential living costs.

– Have a very low income, and not having access to benefits would harm their child’s well-being.

It is important to be aware of these rights and restrictions while holding a BN(O) Visa in the UK. Additionally, the UK’s immigration and visa regulations may change over time, so it’s advisable to stay informed about any updates or changes in the visa conditions and eligibility criteria. Consulting with official government sources or immigration authorities can provide the most up-to-date information regarding BN(O) Visas and their associated privileges and limitations.

If your application for a British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) Visa is refused, it can be a challenging situation. Visa refusals can happen for various reasons, and it’s essential to understand the options available to you if your BN(O) Visa application is not successful. Here’s a general overview of the steps you can take:

  1. If your BN(O) Visa application is refused, you typically have the option to request an administrative review. This request should be made within 14 or 28 days of receiving the refusal notice, depending on where you applied. During an administrative review, the immigration authorities will reexamine your application to determine if an error was made in the decision. If they find that the initial refusal was incorrect, your application may be approved.
  2. If your request for an administrative review is unsuccessful, you have the option to file a Pre-action Protocol for Judicial Review. This is a legal process where you challenge the decision of the immigration authorities in court. You should seek legal advice and assistance from an immigration lawyer for this step.
  3. If you continue to face challenges in your application after the Pre-action Protocol for Judicial Review, you can proceed with a Judicial Review. This is a legal process that involves the court reviewing the lawfulness of the decision made by the immigration authorities. Again, legal representation is highly recommended for this step.
  4. If you believe that your initial application contained errors or omissions that led to the refusal, you can choose to submit a new application. It’s essential to address any deficiencies or issues from the previous application to increase your chances of success.
  5. Consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer is crucial if your BN(O) Visa application is refused. They can assess your situation, provide guidance on the best course of action, and help you navigate the appeals or reapplication process.

Remember that each case is unique, and the specific steps you should take may vary depending on the circumstances of your visa application. Legal advice and representation can significantly increase your chances of a successful outcome, so consider seeking professional assistance if you face a visa refusal.

British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status is a nationality status created for British nationals who reside overseas, and it is associated with historical ties to certain British overseas territories. The BN(O) status for Hong Kong residents was introduced before the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997 as a way to provide a form of British nationality to those living in Hong Kong at the time.

To obtain BN(O) status, Hong Kong nationals had to apply for it before July 1, 1997. Those who acquired this status, as well as their eligible family members, can potentially be eligible for the BN(O) Visa. The BN(O) Visa is a new UK visa route introduced in 2021, allowing BN(O) status holders and their families to come to the UK to live, work, study, and potentially settle.

This visa route is designed to provide a pathway for Hong Kong residents with BN(O) status to establish themselves in the UK and seek refuge or opportunities in the country if they choose to do so. It’s a response to the changing political landscape in Hong Kong and a way for the UK to provide support and a new home for those with BN(O) status who may wish to relocate.

The availability of the BN(O) Visa is a significant development for Hong Kong nationals and their families, offering them an opportunity to build a new life in the UK, with the possibility of permanent settlement and British citizenship in the future.

Yes, the BN(O) Visa allows you to study in the UK. You can pursue your studies at various educational institutions, including colleges and universities. This visa category enables BN(O) status holders and their eligible family members to access educational opportunities in the UK while they reside in the country. Whether you’re seeking higher education, vocational training, or any other form of study, the BN(O) Visa permits you to enroll in educational programs in the UK. It’s an important feature of the visa, providing access to academic and training opportunities for visa holders and their dependents.

Yes, you can apply for settlement (Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR) in the UK after you have lived in the country for at least 5 years on a BN(O) visa. ILR grants you the right to live, work, and study in the United Kingdom permanently, with no time restrictions. It is an important milestone for BN(O) status holders who intend to make the UK their permanent home. After spending at least 12 months in the UK with ILR, you become eligible to apply for British citizenship, provided you meet all the necessary requirements. This allows you to become a British citizen, and you’ll have the benefits and privileges of a British passport holder. So, the BN(O) visa not only offers temporary residence but also a pathway to long-term settlement and potential British citizenship for those who meet the eligibility criteria.