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4th October, 2022

Routes to the UK: Hong Kong BN(O) Visa

image of Hong Kong BN(O) Visa

The option to become a BN(O) status holder was introduced to reflect the UK’s commitment to the people of Hong Kong, who chose to retain their ties to the UK before Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997, below we outline five things you need to know about a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa.

What is a Hong Kong BN(O) Visa?

The Hong Kong BN(O) Visa is an immigration route for BN(O) citizens to enable them live, work and study in the UK for up to five years.

The application process is open to those BN(O) status holders who are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong but also extends to those currently living in the UK. Moreover, if approved, visa holders may be able to be joined by a defined group of family members irrespective of the member’s nationality.

Registration for BN(O) status was a limited time offer, with the Government confirming that there are no plans to open registration nor make allowances for retrospective applications. Therefore, you are only a BN(O) if you registered for status before 1 July 1997.

Eligibility for Application

In order to qualify for a Hong Kong BN(O) Status Holder Visa you will need to satisfy UK Visas & Immigration that:

  • You are at least 18 years old;
  • You are a British National (Overseas) under the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986;
  • You are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong (if applying to enter the UK) or normally resident in the UK, Guernsey, Jersey, the Isle of Man or Hong Kong (if applying for permission to stay);
  • You are able to accommodate and support yourself in the UK for at least six months;
  • Your application does not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal;
  • You have provided a valid TB certificate, if required

BN(O)’s making a visa application may be able to bring family members to the UK. But it is important to note that there are stringent rules, with family members needing to make a separate application to be classed as the BN(O)’s “dependant”.

Rights after Visa is granted

BN(O) visa holders have a right to work (including employment, self-employment and voluntary work) in almost any role, consistent with UK employment laws and subject to having the appropriate skills and qualifications. They are also able to undertake studies including attendance at school, college or university. Dependent children are able to attend school (if under 18) or education and training (if aged 16 to 19).

Employing an BN(O) Visa Holder

If you are intending to employ a BN(O) Visa holder you must ensure that you are complying with your obligations under the Code of Practice on Preventing Illegal Working. Employers should check that the Employee has a stamp in their passport as proof of their right to work in accordance with List B Group 1 of the Code.

Other routes to the UK

Given the deadline placed on registering for BN(O) status, the BN(O) visa will not be available for all those who want to live and work in the UK. There are, however, a wealth of immigration routes that nationals from Hong Kong can use.  These include a variety of visas for skilled workers, business visas for entrepreneurs, and also family visas for those with family already in the UK.

We specialise in advising businesses on sponsor licences and business visas. If you have any questions, please contact Adam Haines or Jayne Bamford.

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