Thursday, 11 February 2021

🇭🇰🇬🇧 10 interesting rules of the new Hong Kong BNO visa.




The Hong Kong BNO visa is now up and running, and we have been submitting the applications. Here are some interesting rules about this visa category that make it different from the others. We remind that it is only for those who hold a British National (Overseas) status. This was inspired by the recently published UK Government rules https://www.gov.uk/guidance/immigration-rules/immigration-rules-appendix-hong-kong-british-national-overseas but also by some articles in the Press. 

#1 Hong Kong BNO visa allows to work, study and live in the UK, and then qualify for settlement. It is a very generous provision that isn't  tied to a Sponsor, be it an employer, a family member or an academic establishment. 

#2 BN(O) status doesn't need to be proven by the valid BN(O) passport, it can be an expired document. 

#3 Only those who are ordinarily residents in Hong Kong or the UK can qualify. Well, if you are a resident in, say, Australia (as we are often asked), you could come to the UK on a different visa, such as Tier 5, and then switch to this category once you have stayed in the UK for a reasonable period of time.  

#4 Just as well, living in the UK before applying for a HK BNO visa could make it easier to meet the financial requirement. The BNOs are expected to support themselves financially without relying on the public purse. 

#5 Switching is allowed from other visa categories, including a visitor status. While switching from a Student or a Work visa may seem logical, it would be almost impossible to switch from a visitor to ‘proper’ visas, such as to work or live with your partner in the UK. But possible with a BNO visa!

#6 You can choose the validity of the visa, either 2.5 years or 5 years. 

#7 You can qualify for Settlement after 5 years in the UK. Not all 5 years have to be on this visa, can be combined with some other visa categories, cannot be with others. 

#8 Applicants are still subject to the general grounds of refusal, such as criminality. 

#9 If the above sounds positive, here’s a very restrictive rule: your family members may have to apply at the same time as you. A strange rule but it is what it is (in most visa categories your dependants could join later). 

#10 Family members can accompany you, such as your immediate relatives: a spouse and children under 18 yo. Interestingly, even some adult children could qualify if they were born after 1 July 1997 (the date of handover of Hong Kong to China) and, therefore, aren't eligible to get a BN(O) passport. This is a provision unique to this category because adult children cannot normally be classes as dependants for other visas.  


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