If you are a Hong Kong resident holding British National (Overseas) status, you and your close relatives can apply for a British National (Overseas) visa. As an individual who is 18 years or older, born on or after 1 July 1997, and a child of a British National (Overseas), you have the autonomy to apply independently without requiring your parent's involvement. Your family members are also eligible to accompany you in the application process. A BNO visa application can be made from outside or inside of the UK. If you are outside of the UK, it is advisable to wait for the decision on your application before making any travel arrangements.
A BNO Visa Explained
The British National (Overseas) visa, commonly called the BNO visa, is an immigration program offered by the United Kingdom to enable Hong Kong residents with British National (Overseas) status to relocate and pursue employment opportunities in the United Kingdom. To be eligible for this visa, individuals must hold British National (Overseas) status, or be a child of a British National (Overseas), and demonstrate sufficient financial capability to support themselves in the UK.
The BNO visa offers a range of valuable benefits, providing individuals with the opportunity to reside, study, and work in the United Kingdom. Through this visa, residents also gain access to state healthcare services and some other public services, subject to meeting specific conditions.
Benefits with the BNO Visa
- Unlimited Availability: The UK Home Office issues an unrestricted number of BNO visas.
- Simplified Eligibility: In contrast to other visa categories, the BNO visa doesn't impose specific salary or skill conditions.
- No Sponsorship Hurdles: BNO applicants enjoy the freedom of not needing sponsorship, providing flexibility in their application process.
- Extended Stay: Holders of the BNO visa can reside in the UK for a duration of up to 5 years.
- Family Inclusion: The visa extends its benefits to eligible partners and children, granting them access to education and healthcare services.
- Employment Flexibility: BNO visa holders relish unrestricted employment opportunities across various sectors, with the exception of roles involving sports coaching or professional sports involvement.
- Age: Applicants must be 18 years or older.
- BNO Status: Eligibility hinges on holding British National (Overseas) status or being a child of a BNO.
- Residency: Depending on your location, applicants must either be a resident of Hong Kong when applying from outside the UK or residing in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or Hong Kong if applying locally.
- English Language Proficiency: While there's no initial English proficiency requirement, it becomes crucial for those planning to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) in the UK after five years.
- Character Requirements: As part of the eligibility criteria, individuals must meet good character requirements, which encompass considerations of criminal records, immigration history, outstanding debts in the UK, and other factors.
Family Members on the BNO Visa
The BNO visa extends its reach to include family members. Dependency can be demonstrated through marriage, civil partnership, or cohabitation. Children under 18 are generally allowed to join or remain with both parents, with exceptions for specific circumstances.
Demonstrating financial capability is a critical aspect of the BNO visa application. For the initial application, it's essential to show the ability to support oneself and family for a minimum of six months. The amount required varies based on factors such as expected rent, the number of family members, and prospective earnings.
From Inside the UK:
- Determine Eligibility: Ensure compliance with all BNO visa eligibility criteria.
- Gather Documents: Collect essential documents, including a valid passport and supporting evidence.
- Apply Online: Submit your application through the official UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website.
- Verify Identity: Depending on your passport type, use the "UK Immigration: ID Check" app or visit a visa application center for identity verification.
- Attend an Appointment: If an appointment is chosen, visit the designated visa application center, bringing necessary documents.
- Await Decision: The UKVI typically decides on BNO visa applications within 12 weeks.
- Travel Restrictions: Note that travel outside the Channel Islands, the UK, or Isle of Man is restricted until a decision is made.
From Outside the UK:
- Visit the Official Website: Access the BNO visa application system on the official GOV.UK website.
- Fill in a Web-Based Form: Create an account, fill in the online application form with accurate information.
- Verify Identity: Utilize the "UK Immigration: ID Check" app or visit a visa application center for identity verification.
- Visit an Appointment (If Required): Depending on circumstances, attending an appointment may be necessary.
- Submit Biometric Data: Provide fingerprints and other biometric details during the appointment.
- Submit Supporting Documents: Ensure all necessary documents are ready for upload.
- Pay Fees: Pay the visa fee and healthcare surcharge during the online application process.
- Submit Application: Double-check all information before submitting the application.
- Wait for Decision: UKVI typically delivers a verdict within 12 weeks.
Applying for a BNO visa involves visa application fees and healthcare surcharge payments. The amounts vary based on the duration of the visa.
- Visa Application Fee: £180 for 2 years and 6 months, or £250 for 5 years.
- Healthcare Surcharge:
- £1,560 for adults for 2 years and 6 months, or £3,120 for 5 years.
- £1,175 for children for 2 years and 6 months, or £2,350 for 5 years.
Renewing the BNO Visa
For BNO visa holders from Hong Kong, the visa is renewable multiple times, allowing for extended stays and eventual eligibility for permanent residence.
ILR and Citizenship
After residing in the UK for five years under a BNO visa, individuals become eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR). This marks a pivotal moment in the immigration journey, offering the following benefits:
- Unrestricted Stay: Holders no longer need to extend their BNO visa.
- Travel Flexibility: Easily travel to and from the UK.
- Educational Opportunities: Study at colleges, schools, or universities in the UK.
- Access to Public Benefits: ILR holders gain the right to request public benefits.
After securing ILR, a BNO visa holder can, after an additional 12 months, apply for British citizenship. This opens up a realm of possibilities, including the assurance of continued residence in the UK, irrespective of geopolitical changes.
Benefits for BNO Visa Holders
Before reaching ILR, BNO visa holders can qualify for public benefits under specific financial circumstances. This includes individuals who find themselves without a home, lacking financial means for housing, facing the risk of losing their home, or having an exceptionally low income affecting their child's welfare.
How We Can Assist You
Our commitment is to assist our customers in achieving their immigration goals. Our services include:
- Determining Eligibility: A thorough assessment to determine if you and your family meet the eligibility requirements for a BNO visa.
- Error-Free Application: Guidance in creating an accurate and mistake-free BNO application, maximizing your chances of success.
- Document Collection and Review: Assistance in gathering all necessary documents, meticulously reviewing them for accuracy before submission.
- Individual Applications: Guidance and support for each eligible family member throughout their BNO visa application process.
- Visa Extension Assistance: Handling all aspects of your visa extension applications for you and your family members.
- Home Office Communication: Acting as your trusted intermediary, communicating with the Home Office on your behalf regarding your BNO visa application.
- Appeal Process Guidance: In the event of a rejection, providing expert guidance and support.
Embark on your immigration journey with confidence. Contact us today for personalized assistance tailored to your unique situation.