What is the Hong Kong BN(O) visa route?
The Hong Kong BN(O) route allows BN(O) status holders and certain family members to live, work and study in the UK. After 5 years, applicants will be able to apply for settlement, and after a further year, British citizenship, providing they meet the requirements.
Prospective applicants for the Hong Kong BN(O) route already in the UK on another route, for example the Skilled Worker route, can apply to switch from within the UK. The Hong Kong BN(O) route provides for permission to stay in the UK, as well as entry clearance from overseas.
Applicants will be able to apply for permission for either 5 years or 30 months. The application fee for the Hong Kong BN(O) route is £180 for 30 months’ permission and £250 for 5 years’ permission. Those granted entry clearance or permission to stay will be able to work in almost any capacity and study in the UK. They will not be able to access public funds.
There are 2 pathways under the Hong Kong BN(O) route in the rules:
- the BN(O) Status Holder Route; and
- the BN(O) Household Member route.
The BN(O) Status Holder route
The BN(O) Status Holder route is for BN(O) status holders, their partner or spouse, their dependent children or grandchildren under the age of 18, and an adult relative with a high degree of dependency on the BN(O) or the BN(O)’s partner.
The BN(O) Household Member route
Uniquely, the BN(O) Household Member route allows an adult child of a BN(O) status holder or of the partner of a BN(O) status holder born after the handover on 1 July 1997 to apply on the Hong Kong BN(O) route as a dependant of a BN(O) status holder or their partner where they form part of the same household.
The BN(O) Household Member’s partner or spouse and dependent children can also apply with the BN(O) Household Member on the Hong Kong BN(O) route. The BN(O) Status Holder and BN(O) Household Member routes ensure that family households can move to the UK together, provided that family members are part of the same household as the BN(O) status holder.
British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status
BN(O) status is a form of British nationality created for people from Hong Kong so they could retain a form of British nationality and a connection to the UK after the handover to China in 1997 in line with the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
Anyone who was a British Dependent Territories citizen through a connection with Hong Kong was able to apply to register as a BN(O) status holder and apply for a BN(O) passport. People could apply for BN(O) status for a period of 10 years prior to the handover to China on 1 July 1997. Some children aged under 18 were also listed as BN(O) status holders in their parents’ BN(O) passports at the time of the handover. BN(O) status is valid for life and cannot be passed on to spouses or children. It is not possible to apply for BN(O) status now.
A BN(O) status holder must be aged 18 or over on the date of application. A BN(O) Household Child must be under the age of 18 at the date of application. A BN(O) Household Member must have been born on or after 1 July 1997 and must be aged 18 or over on the date of application.
General grounds of refusal (‘good character’ requirements) apply, and can lead to refusal of applications in certain circumstances, for example if you have certain criminal offences.
If the applicant is applying for permission to stay the following also apply: • the applicant is not in breach of immigration laws, except periods of overstaying discounted under paragraph 39E. • the applicant is not on immigration bail.
There is no set level of funds an applicant must hold. However, all applicants, including their dependants, must be able to prove they can adequately maintain and accommodate themselves in the UK for 6 months without access to public funds. The test for adequate maintenance is whether you can show that, after your accommodation costs have been paid, you have at least as much money as you would if your family were receiving income support in the UK.
If the applicant and their dependants are applying for permission to stay in the UK, but their applications fall for refusal because you are not satisfied they can meet the financial requirement, Home Office can exercise discretion to grant 12 months’ leave outside the rules.
Ordinary residence requirement
Applicants for the Hong Kong BN(O) route can apply for entry clearance from any country outside the UK but must be able to demonstrate their ordinary residence in Hong Kong.
Applicants who have submitted an application for entry clearance must be outside the UK and must show they are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong at the date of application.
Applicants for permission to stay must be in the UK and must show they are ordinarily resident in the UK, the Bailiwick of Guernsey, the Bailiwick of Jersey, the Isle of Man or Hong Kong at the date of application.
If the applicant and their dependants are applying for permission to stay in the UK but their applications fall for refusal because you are not satisfied they can meet the ordinary residence requirement, you have the discretion to grant 12 months’ leave outside the rules.
Home Office expectation is that BN(O) status holders and relevant family members will usually apply for the Hong Kong BN(O) route together, although they may choose to travel to the UK separately.
Who must apply together with the main applicant? A BN(O) Household Member, and their family members, a grandchild of a BN(O) status holder, or a BN(O) Adult Dependent Relative must apply for permission at the same time as the lead applicant.
BN(O) Adult Dependent Relative
An Adult Dependent Relative is the: • parent aged 18 or over • grandparent • brother or sister aged 18 or over • son or daughter aged 18 or over of a BN(O) status holder or BN(O) status holder’s dependent partner.
Assessing high dependency
Cases of exceptional high dependency can be considered outside of the definitions of dependants above (dependent partner/spouse, Household child, Household Member, partner/spouse of a Household Member, dependent child of a Household Member).
Assessing high dependency is guided by, but not limited to, the following factors : • their age, illness, or disability requires long-term personal care to perform everyday tasks • the applicant normally lives with the BN(O) status holder • the applicant is unable to access care in Hong Kong, even with the practical and financial support of the BN(O) status holder or the BN(O) status holder’s partner/spouse.
You can request further information to establish whether the dependent adult relative is part of the same household as the BN(O) status holder and the level of their dependency on the BN(O) status holder or the BN(O) status holder’s partner/spouse, such as evidence of medical conditions, how long have they been living together and how care is provided.