Since 31 January 2021, it is possible for Hong Kong residents with British National Overseas status and their family members to apply to come and live and work in the UK. The visa is known as a BNO visa.
The new immigration route offers many advantages for those that qualify. Some of the benefits include the fact that there are no work restrictions or salary thresholds to meet. Furthermore, after five years on a BNO visa, you will be able to qualify to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. There will be thus no time restrictions on your stay in the UK.
How to qualify
To qualify for the British National Overseas (BNO) visa, you have to fulfil the following criteria;
- You must be a British national (Overseas)
- You must be 18 years or older
- If you are applying from outside the UK, your permanent home must be in Hong Kong.
- If you are applying from inside the UK, your permanent home must be in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man or Hong Kong.
You will also have to fulfil a maintenance requirement. Please speak to your Breytenbachs consultant for advice on how much you need to show.
Length of Stay on the BNO Visa
The visa will be granted for a period of either two years and six months, or five years.
It is possible to extend the visa as many times, as you like. However, a person should qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain after five years with a BNO visa.
Right to work
One of the main advantages of the BNO visa is that there are no work restrictions on the visa holder. However, you may not work as a professional sportsperson or sports coach.
You will also be allowed to study.
Spouses and Dependants
You can apply for your spouse and other dependants to accompany you on the BNO visa. Please note that they must apply at the same time as you. They will not be able to apply after you get a decision on your visa application.
Immigration Health Surcharge
Applicants and their spouses and dependents will have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge for every year of their stay.
The health surcharge is part of the online visa application, and payable when you apply.
Indefinite Leave to Remain
After five years on a BNO visa, you should be able to qualify for Indefinite Leave to Remain.
Persons who have already spent time in the UK on a different visa type may count this time to the five-year qualifying period to Indefinite Leave to Remain. Visas that will not count towards the qualifying period include; Student visa and Youth Mobility Scheme visa. Please speak to your Breytenbachs consultant for more information on switching to the BNO visa from within the UK.
Please note that you will have to fulfil the normal eligibility criteria to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR).
After one year with the status of ILR, you should qualify to apply for British citizenship.
How can Breytenbachs help you?
Breytenbachs have a team of consultants that deal with the British National (Overseas) visa or BNO Visa. You are welcome to contact them to guide you through the process. Please do not hesitate to contact us today for expert advice and peace of mind.