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Home Secretary announces details of the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa

The government has today released more information on the new Hong Kong BN(O) Visa, which will create a bespoke immigration route to enable British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) citizens ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, and their immediate family members, to move to the UK to work and study.

The government committed to open this new immigration route following the Chinese government’s decision to impose a new National Security Law on Hong Kong.

The new Hong Kong BN(O) Visa is a significant change to the UK immigration system and will allow BN(O) citizens to apply for two periods of 30 months’ leave or 5 years’ leave. This new immigration route will afford BN(O) citizens the right to live and work or study in the UK and gives them a path to full British citizenship.

In addition to providing a pathway for BN(O)s, this route will also enable those born after 1 July 1997 to a British National (Overseas) registered parent to apply to come to the UK.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said:

The UK has a strong historic relationship with the people of Hong Kong and we are keeping our promise to them to uphold their freedoms.

BN(O) citizens will now have a choice to come and live, work and study in the UK, building a new life for them and their family.

We look forward to welcoming BN(O) citizens to the UK.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:

Today’s announcement shows the UK is keeping its word: we will not look the other way on Hong Kong, and we will not duck our historic responsibilities to its people.

BN(O) citizens coming to the UK will have access to the job market at any skill level and without salary threshold but will not have access to public funds under this route. This will enable those who want to live in the UK to do so and become valued members of our society.

Those who come to the UK through this route will be able to apply to settle in the UK with indefinite leave to remain once they have lived in the UK for 5 years. After 12 months with this status they will then be able to apply for British citizenship.

In order for BN(O)s citizens to take up this offer they do not need to have a valid Hong Kong BN(O) passport. They’ll need a valid passport to show proof of identity, but this can be any applicable nationality passport. They can use a valid or expired BN(O) passport to show proof of BN(O) status, however, if they do not have a BN(O) passport the Home Office may be able to check status without one.

Those born after 1 July 1997 were not eligible to become BN(O)s having been born after the UK’s handover of Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong BN(O) Visa route will open from January 2021. Eligible BN(O) citizens are able to apply for this route both inside and outside the UK.

For those who wish to travel before the route opens, the UK will ensure that BN(O) citizens who wish to come to the UK are able to do so, subject to standard immigration checks. A BN(O) citizen can come to the UK as a visitor for up to six months without a visa, or apply for an existing visa route. Eligible BN(O) citizens unable to meet the Immigration Rules may be granted Leave Outside the Rules at the border. Eligible BN(O) citizens will be able to switch to the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa route once it is open, from within the UK.

The creation of this new bespoke route is a demonstration of the UK’s commitment to BN(O) citizens in Hong Kong. More information on the route and requirements can be found on GOV.UK.