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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/an-introduction-to-the-hong-kong-british-national-overseas-visa/the-hong-kong-british-national-overseas-visa-accessible-version
The Hong Kong BN(O) visa
The UK government has created a new visa to enable British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status holders ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, and their immediate family members, to settle in the UK to live, work and study.
In signing the Sino-British Joint Declaration, China made legally binding commitments to uphold fundamental rights and freedoms, and respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy for at least 50 years from 1997. The Hong Kong BN(O) visa is part of the UK government’s response to China’s failure to live up to its international obligations with respect to Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong BN(O) visa is a generous offer we are making to BN(O) status holders and their dependants, who in turn will be expected to be self-sufficient and contribute to UK society.
Those eligible will be able to apply for settlement after 5 years if they meet the requirements, and British Citizenship 12 months after settlement.
BN(O) status is a form of British nationality created for people from Hong Kong so they could retain a form of British nationality after handover in 1997. Registration for BN(O) status was a time-limited offer for those that wished to maintain connections with the UK following handover.
There are no plans for BN(O) registration to re-open.
About the BN(O) visa
The Hong Kong BN(O) visa will provide eligible applicants with the ability to enter or remain in the UK for up to 5 years. Applicants and their family members will be able to live, work and study in the UK but will not have access to public funds.
After these 5 years, successful applicants will have the choice to apply for indefinite leave to remain and, after a further 12 months, you will be able to apply for citizenship.
BN(O) status holders do not need a valid BN(O) passport to access the Hong Kong BN(O) visa.
Who can apply
Anyone who is a BN(O) status holder and normally resides in Hong Kong can apply for the Hong Kong BN(O) visa. Applicants do not need a valid BN(O) passport to demonstrate eligibility and you don’t need to request a new passport if it has expired or been lost.
If applying from outside the UK you will need a valid travel document or passport to travel. Following an announcement by the Chinese government on 29 January 2021, you may no longer be able to leave Hong Kong using your BN(O) passport. However, you will still be able to travel to the UK using another valid travel document or passport, and your BN(O) passport can still be used to evidence your BN(O) status and to apply via the smartphone app.
Family members who normally live with a BN(O) status holder may also be able to apply.
- a spouse, civil partner or unmarried partner
- children (under the age of 18)
- 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) in exceptional circumstances where there is a high level of dependency
Children under 18 must intend to live with their parents during their stay in the UK, unless there is a good reason why they cannot.
There will be no quota on numbers.
How to apply
You can start your application online.
There are 2 application options available:
1. If you have a BN(O), HKSAR, or EEA biometric passport, you can apply in a fully digital way using the UK Immigration: ID Check smartphone app.
This is a more convenient application process that does not require a visit to a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Service (UKVCAS) location.
You will be able to apply and upload your document using the app, and if your application is successful you will obtain your immigration status online for immediate use. If your application is approved you will not get a vignette (visa sticker) in your passport or need to collect a biometric residence permit (BRP) when you are in the UK.
If the app cannot read the chip in your passport, you will need to use another BN(O), HKSAR or EEA passport with a biometric chip. HKSAR passports with a document number starting with ‘K’ may have chips that are harder to read. If you scan your HKSAR passport but the app cannot read the chip, you can restart the ‘confirm identity’ task on the application dashboard and use another BNO or EEA passport with a biometric chip if you have one. You can travel to the UK on a different passport as long as it’s valid. Anyone who is unable to scan their biometric passport will instead need to finalise their application through attending an appointment at a VAC or UKVCAS.
2. If you are unable to scan your biometric passport or if you are a dependant of a BN(O) status holder but do not have a BN(O), HKSAR or EEA biometric passport you can apply on GOV.UK and will need to finalise the application attending an appointment at a VAC or UKVCAS.
If you are applying from overseas, you will be required to make an appointment at a VAC, for example in Hong Kong, to submit your biometric information and complete your application.
If your application is approved, you will get a vignette (visa sticker) in your passport and need to collect a BRP when you are in the UK.
Once you have a vignette, you must travel to the UK within 90 days of the date the vignette is placed in the passport. If you change your travel plans later, you will need to apply to change your vignette for a fee.
If applying in the UK you will be required to make an appointment at a UKVCAS location in the UK, to submit your biometric information and complete your application. If your application is approved, you will need to collect a BRP.
If you have a biometric BN(O), HKSAR or EEA passport, you can use the app to scan your passport to apply. If your family members have different passports, or cannot use the app, they will need to book an appointment at a Visa Application Centre (VAC) or UKVCAS to give their fingerprints.
If some family members apply through the app and others go to the VAC or UKVCAS, the Home Office will still consider applications submitted on GOV.UK and on the app as applications made together as a family unit. If you have queries about the application process, please contact UKVI.
Applying and travelling as a family
The Hong Kong BN(O) visa is designed to enable a BN(O) status holder and their dependants to come to the UK as a family unit.
If you’re applying as a family unit you must apply together. The main applicant who is a BN(O) should apply first and get their unique reference number. Any family members applying will need to quote this unique reference number in their applications.
Family members applying with a BN(O) status holder who do not hold a BN(O), HKSAR or EEA biometric passport will need to make an appointment to attend a VAC or UKVCAS location to give their fingerprint biometrics.
If your family members do not apply with you, they will not be able to apply for the Hong Kong BN(O) visa to join you later.
Children under 18 should apply with both of their parents, although there are some exceptions.
If you or your family members travel to the UK at different times, you may not all qualify to settle in the UK at the same time and may have to make further applications for permission to stay in the UK to meet the 5 years required.
The VAC in Hong Kong offers a courier despatch service for a small additional fee. We recommend using this safe and secure service as it means you do not have to attend the VAC to collect your documents.
Applying from within the UK
There have been some BN(O) status holders who have wished to travel sooner. In these exceptional circumstances, UK Border Force officers have been able to consider granting leave outside the rules (LOTR) for a period of 6 months to BN(O) status holders and their accompanying dependants at the UK border.
If you are a BN(O), or a family member of a BN(O), and are already in the UK, you do not need to apply straightaway unless your existing leave is shortly expiring.
This also applies to applicants with leave in another category which is due to expire, for example skilled workers (Tier 2), students (Tier 4) or visitors: they can also switch to this route if they wish to remain in the UK.
Applications for the Hong Kong BN(O) visa will cost £180 per person for 30 months or £250 per person for the 5-year visa.
Like other nationals coming to the UK, those applying for the Hong Kong BN(O) visa will need to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) in full as part of the application process.
For each adult this will be:
- £1,560 if you’re applying to stay for 30 months
- £3,120 if you’re applying to stay for 5 years
For each child under the age of 18, this will be:
- £1,175 if you’re applying to stay for 30 months
- £2,350 if you’re applying to stay for 5 years
Once you’ve paid the IHS and your visa has been granted you will be able to use the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK, but may still need to pay for certain types of services.
What you can and cannot do with this visa
- work (except as a professional sportsperson)
- study (including applying for higher education courses)
- use the NHS
You cannot claim public funds (social welfare benefits).
Your children will be able to:
- attend school if they are under 18 (all state schools are free)
- attend education and training if they are aged 16 to 19
Additional eligibility requirements
If you’re applying from outside the UK, you and your family members must normally live in Hong Kong.
If you’re already in the UK, you must normally live in the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, the Isle of Man or Hong Kong.
As part of your application, BN(O) status holders will need to be able to show that they can support themselves and their dependants for at least 6 months when in the UK.
You can show this through:
- money in your bank account
- income you get from a current job in the UK (including self-employment)
- any other income you get (for example from renting out a property)
- offers of support or accommodation from friends or family
You’ll need to provide evidence such as:
- bank statements
- letters from friends or family with evidence they have the money to support you and your family members
These documents must be in English, or in original language with a certified English translation.
You won’t need to meet this requirement if you’ve been living in the UK for more than a year when you apply.
Tuberculosis (TB) certificate requirement
If you normally live in Hong Kong, you must provide a tuberculosis (TB) test certificate from an approved TB test centre with your application
If you’re already in the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man and your last grant of permission was for 6 months or less (for example you were granted LOTR at the border), you must provide a TB test certificate.
This can either be from an approved TB test centre in the UK or, if you already obtained a TB test certificate before travelling to the UK, from an approved TB test centre outside the UK. The certificate must still be valid (unexpired) on the date of application.
You won’t need to provide a TB test certificate if you were last given permission to stay in the UK for more than 6 months and you’ve provided a TB test certificate before.