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The new Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa

01 February 2021 Jack Freeland Blog

Coming into force yesterday, 31 January 2021, Appendix Hong Kong British National (Overseas) creates two new visa routes for adult BN(O)s and their dependants.

The BN(O) Status Holder route has been created for British National (Overseas) citizens who are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong or the UK. Dependant partners and children of BNOs can also apply under this route, as well as other family members who can evidence a high level of dependency to the main applicant.

The BN(O) Household Member route has been created for adult children, born on or after 1 July 1997, of a British National (Overseas) citizen who form part of the same household.

There are validity, suitability and eligibility requirements that must be met for both routes. The validity and suitability requirements are standard: apply using the correct form, pay the correct fee, and not fall for refusal under the general grounds for refusal. We examine the eligibility requirements for both routes below.

The BN(O) Status Holder route

The main applicant must be a BN(O) citizen under the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Order 1986.

Dependants under the Status Holder route are split into 3 sub-categories:

  1. Dependant partner;
  2. BN(O) Household Child; and
  3. BN(O) Adult Dependant Relative.

Spouses and unmarried partners in the first sub-category are required to meet the standard genuine and subsisting relationship requirement. Interestingly, the second sub-category also includes grandchildren of BN(0) Status Holders as well as children.

The third sub-category for adult dependant relatives is fairly standard and mirrors the provisions in place for such relatives of British and settled people in the UK; applicants must be over 18 and must be the parent, grandparent, brother, sister, son or daughter of a BN(O) Status Holder applicant. They must prove that they are financially dependent on the main applicant, or that there is a high level of dependency as a result of age, illness or disability which requires long-term personal care to perform everyday tasks.

The BN(O) Household Member route

Alongside the above noted sub-categories for dependants, Appendix Hong Kong British National (Overseas) also creates another main route for dependants called the BN(O) Household Member route. This route is solely for children of BN(O) Status Holders over the age of 18 and born on or after 1 July 1997.

Applicants under this route are also permitted to bring their own dependant partners and children to the UK.

Ordinary Residence Requirement

Applicants from outside the UK must be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong at the date of application, and those applying from within the UK must be ordinarily resident in the UK and applying for permission to stay.

When considering ordinary residence the Home Office will look at an applicant’s regular habitual mode of life in a particular place for the time being, which has persisted apart from temporary or occasional absences. Production of documents such as identity cards, household bills, tax records, employment records, educational records, voters cards and tenancy agreements/mortgage statements from Hong Kong will be required to prove ordinary residence in Hong Kong.

Financial Requirement

Applicants for permission to stay in the UK will automatically meet the financial requirement if they have been living in the UK for 12 months or more at the date of application.

Applicants for entry clearance from Hong Kong or those who have been living in the UK for less than 12 months at the date of application will be required to prove that they can adequately maintain and accommodate themselves in the UK without recourse to public funds.

Tuberculosis (TB) Test Requirement

Those who have been resident in Hong Kong for 6 months or more before they apply will need to produce a valid medical certificate confirming that they have undergone screening for active pulmonary tuberculosis and that they have received a negative result.

Applicants from within the UK will not normally need to provide a TB certificate unless their last grant of leave was for less than six months, and they were present in a country listed in Appendix T for more than six months immediately prior.

Route to Settlement

Applicants have the choice of applying for an initial 2.5-year visa or a 5-year visa. Both place the applicant on the 5-year route to settlement and the only difference between the two is the overall cost; a 2.5-year visa is £180, and a 5-year visa is £250.

However, applicants will also be required to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (of £624 per year for adults and £470 per year for children) up-front for the full duration of their leave. This means that some advance planning will be required, and those who are not certain of their future plans in the UK may find the 2.5-year visa a more affordable and sensible option.

BN(0)s who do decide to stay in the UK will become eligible for settlement after completing 5 years of continuous residence. However, Paragraph 62.1 of the new Appendix also provides a welcome addition to the Rules that we haven’t seen before:

The applicant must have spent a continuous period of 5 years with permission on a route in these rules under which a person can settle, of which the most recent grant of permission must have been on the Hong Kong BN(O) route.”

This means that applicants in the UK who have switched to a BN(O) route from another route that leads to settlement can combine their years spent in the UK so that they can settle after a cumulative total of 5 years.

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If you would like our assistance with the preparation and submission of your BN(O) application please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

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