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British Nationals (Overseas) in Hong Kong

The UK will open a ‘Hong Kong BN(O) Visa’ for BN(O) citizens and their close family members from January 2021.

You’ll be able to apply for this route from outside or inside the UK.

You’ll be able to apply to enter or remain in the UK for an initial period of 30 months, extendable by a further 30 months, or a single period of 5 years. You’ll be able to work and study but you won’t be able to access public funds such as social welfare benefits.

You’ll be able to apply to settle in the UK (also called ‘indefinite leave to remain’) once you’ve lived here for 5 years. After 12 months with this status you can apply for British citizenship.

To be eligible for this visa route you’ll need to show that you:

• have BN(O) status – you don’t need valid BN(O) passport to show this and you don’t need to request a new passport if it’s expired or has been lost
• normally live in Hong Kong
• can accommodate and support yourself financially in the UK for at least 6 months
• show a commitment to learn English, where appropriate
• get a tuberculosis (TB) test certificate from a clinic approved by the Home Office
• pay a fee and the immigration health surcharge

Current status of BN(O) citizens

If you’re a BN(O) citizen you can stay in the UK as a visitor for up to 6 months without a visa. However, you are subject to immigration control and, as a visitor, do not have the right to live, work or take up long term study in the UK. You can’t access public funds and must pay for non-urgent healthcare.

Entering the UK before the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa is available

If you’re not eligible to enter the UK under an existing immigration route, Border Force Officers may be able to consider granting ‘Leave Outside the Rules’ at the UK border for a period of 6 months to you and your accompanying dependants.

To be considered, you’ll need to show:

• your identity
• your BN(O) citizen status
• that you normally live in Hong Kong
• that you can accommodate support yourself financially in the UK

You’ll also need to show evidence of any non-BN(O) dependants’ family links to you and you should travel together to the UK as a family unit. A dependant is any of the following:

• spouse or civil partner
• unmarried partner
• child (under the age of 18 when they first applied)
• other family members where they can show there is a high level of dependency

Identity and BN(O) citizen status

You’ll need a valid passport to show proof of identity.
You can use a valid or expired BN(O) citizen passport to show your BN(O) citizen status.
If you do not have a BN(O) passport the Home Office may be able to look at records to check your status.

Hong Kong residence

To be eligible for ‘Leave Outside the Rules’ you must usually live in Hong Kong. You can prove your evidence of residence by showing:

• a Hong Kong identity card
• a letter from an employer or education provider confirming your employment or study in Hong Kong
• a Hong Kong medical card
• a voter’s card
• a visa or residence permit or other immigration documents
• an educational record, for example a school report
• a letter from the local council or a government department in Hong Kong
• tax records
• records of rent or mortgage payments

The list of evidence is not exhaustive. Other forms of evidence will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Evidence that you can accommodate and support yourself financially

You’ll need to show that you can provide accommodation and financial support for yourself and any of your dependants for at least 6 months.

You can show this with:

• bank statements that show savings
• evidence of regular income that will continue whilst in the UK, such as salary, investment or pension payments
• investment details
• receipt of educational grants from overseas
• an offer of employment in UK
• income of a partner, spouse or other family member to which you have access, for example parental funding or a spouse’s salary earned through lawful working in the UK
• an offer of accommodation from family or friends

The list of evidence is not exhaustive. Other forms of evidence will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Evidence of your relationship

You’ll need to show evidence of your dependant’s relationship to you. Your dependant could be your spouse or civil partner, unmarried partner or child

What you can and cannot do

As a person with ‘Leave Outside the Rules’ you and your dependants can:

• work
• study

You cannot:

• get public funds
• use the NHS for free (except for limited free services) – you’ll need full health insurance throughout your stay with ‘Leave Outside the Rules’

Contact us today

For assistance and guidance with the above, contact us today for advice and assistance with your visa or leave to remain. I can be emailed directly at ravi.merhas@bhdsolicitors if you wish to arrange a consultation, or you can alternatively contact me via the blue contact us boxes above.

We are a firm specialising in immigration law with offices situated in Croydon and Central London and we are continuing to work throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.

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