The BNO Visa allows you to live and work in the UK for up to five years, after which you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and finally British Citizenship. 

Background

The British National Overseas visa was created in response to the passing of a new national security law for Hong Kong, which the UK considers violates agreements made between the UK and China at the time of the Hong Kong handover in 1997.

This new visa route recognises the United Kingdom’ historic and moral commitment to BNO citizens in Hong Kong, giving them the option to live in the UK if they choose to do so.

Who has British national (overseas) status?

Someone who was a British overseas territories citizen by connection with Hong Kong was able to register as a British national (overseas) before 1 July 1997.

British overseas territories citizens from Hong Kong who did not register as British nationals (overseas) and had no other nationality or citizenship on 30 June 1997 became British overseas citizens on 1 July 1997.

BNOs can use a type of British passport and seek consular assistance and protection from most UK diplomatic posts – apart from in China, Hong Kong or Macao. They do not, however, have the right of abode in the UK, and are subject to UK visa requirements.

Who can apply for a BNO visa?

You can apply for a BNO visa if:

  • You are 18 and a British National (Overseas)
  • You have a permanent home in Hong Kong, if you are applying from outside the UK; or
  • You have a permanent home in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Hong Kong if you are applying in the UK.

FAMILY MEMBERS

BN(O) status holder family members can apply as your ‘dependant’ if they normally live with you. They will need to apply for the same BN(O) visa as you, therefore either 2 years and 6 months or 5 years.

Your dependants include:

  • Spouse, civil partner 
  • Unmarried partner, where you have been cohabiting for a minimum of 2 years at the time of the application.
  • Children (under the age of 18), or adult children born on or after 1 July 1997 (and their spouse, or child under the age of 18).
  • Other family members (parents, grandparents, brother, sister, son or daughter) may also be able to apply in exceptional circumstances where there is a high level of dependency. 

You will need to provide evidence of your relationship and that you normally live together when applying for you and your family members. 

Once you have applied for your BNO visa, you will be given a Unique Application Number (UAN) or a Global Web Form (GWF). This UAN should be quoted with applying for your family members so the applications are submitted together within 2 days. It is not possible for a dependant to apply after your visa decision has been made. 

Partners

  • You partner must be 18 or older when applying. They can be your partner or your adult child’s partner. It must be proven that you have been in a relationship and living together for at least 2 years. 

Children under 18

  • Children need to apply with both of their parents unless one parent or grandparent has sole responsibility for them. Unless the child is studying away from home, the child must live with you.

Children 18 or older

  • Children can apply as your dependant if they were born on or after 1 July 1997 and they must apply at the same time as you. The child must normally live with you unless living away from home due to study. 

What you can do

You can do the following:

  • Work (except if you are a professional athlete)
  • Study (including qualifying for higher education courts)
  • Use the NHS.
  • If your children are under the age of 18, send them to school; if they are 16 to 19, send them to education and training.

What you cannot do

You cannot claim public funds

Length of stay

This visa allows you to enter or stay in the UK for a period of 30 months (which you can extend by a further 30 months) or a period of 5 years. This visa route may lead to indefinite leave to remain, and one year later you may be able to apply for British citizenship.

Financial requirement

You will need to prove that you are able to support yourself and your family for at least 6 months in the UK. This can include:

  • Your income and savings as well as your family member’s
  • Money you will earn in your current job in the UK.
  • Money you will earn if you are transferring to a job in the UK with your current employer.
  • An offer of help from family or friends.

If you have lived in the UK for 12 months or more, you normally do not need to prove that you have enough money to support yourself.
You will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge when you apply for the visa.

Financial requirement

You will need to prove that you are able to support yourself and your family for at least 6 months in the UK. This can include:

  • Your income and savings as well as your family member’s
  • Money you will earn in your current job in the UK.
  • Money you will earn if you are transferring to a job in the UK with your current employer.
  • An offer of help from family or friends.

If you have lived in the UK for 12 months or more, you normally do not need to prove that you have enough money to support yourself.
You will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge when you apply for the visa.

How to apply

You can apply online from both inside and outside of the UK, depending on your individual circumstances. The main applicant will apply first and receive a unique reference number. The rest of the family should apply together.

We can assist with your application and ensure that the process goes smoothly.

FAQs

BRITISH NATIONAL OVERSEAS (BNO) VISA

There are two options you can apply for

  1. 2 years and 6 months (30 months)
  2. 5 years

You can extend your visa as many times as you wish if you want to stay longer.

You may prefer to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years if you meet the criteria.

You need to pay a fee for yourself and each of your family members.

The current UK Visas & Immigration fees are as follows:

Visa application fee

  • 2 years 6 months: £180
  • 5 years: £250

National Health Service (NHS) surcharge

Adults (18 or older)

  • 2 years 6 months: £1,560
  • 5 years: £3,120

Children under 18

  • 2 years 6 months: £1,175
  • 5 years: £2,350

Woodcock Law’s fee

  • £2000 main applicant
  • £800 each dependant
  • £500 extra for complex cases

A decision on your application should take about 12 weeks. The processing time starts once you have submitted your online application and confirmed your identity, either using the UK Immigration: ID Check app, or at a visa application centre.

The application may take longer to process if:

  • Home Office requests more evidence to support your application
  • You do not have a valid tuberculosis certificate
  • You have a criminal conviction recognised in the UK
  • You are applying as a family group, and members need to attend an appointment at a visa application centre.

Contact us for our expert advice

There are many requirements to be met to satisfy UK Visas and Immigration. The Immigration Rules contain strict requirements in terms of the evidentiary documents that must be provided.

Woodcock Law is well placed and highly experienced in providing advice and assistance on making a British National Overseas (BNO) visa application. We appreciate that many of the requirements may seem overly complex and onerous, but we can assist you in your application.

We recommend getting in contact with us for our specialist advice on such an application before any action is taken.

Contact Joanne Chung on +44 (0)7903 608 792 or joanne@woodcocklaw.co.uk for more information.

The information contained on this page is sourced from UK Visas and Immigration and is subject to change. While Woodcock Law Limited makes every effort to keep this information current, prices and information cannot be guaranteed and should always be checked on www.gov.uk.