Guidance

British nationals (overseas) in Hong Kong

Information for British nationals (overseas) on immigration to the UK following the announcement of national security legislation in Hong Kong.

You can apply for the BNO visa from overseas, but you should wait for a decision on your application before you travel to the UK.

The UK has created a new immigration route for British nationals (overseas) and their dependants.

New immigration route for British nationals (overseas)

The UK has opened a British National (Overseas) visa for British nationals (overseas) and their close family members. This is known as the BNO visa.

Find out more about the BNO visa.

Current status of British nationals (overseas)

If you’re a British national (overseas) 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 should leave the UK when your visit ends.

You are advised to get travel or health insurance as you can’t access public funds and must pay for most of your healthcare.

View more detailed information about British national (overseas) status.

Check if you need a visa if you need to come to the UK for more than 6 months, or to work or study.

‘Leave Outside the Rules’ at the border

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 up to 6 months to you and your accompanying dependants. You can then apply for the BNO visa from within the UK. You do not need to apply for the BNO visa straight away. You can apply at any point before your ‘Leave Outside the Rules’ expires.

You can enter the UK on ‘Leave Outside the Rules’ until 17 May 2021.

To be considered, you’ll need to show:

  • your identity
  • your British national (overseas) status
  • that you normally live in Hong Kong or the UK
  • that you can accommodate and support yourself financially in the UK

You’ll also need to show evidence of any non-British national (overseas) 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)
  • adult child born on or after 1 July 1997 (and their partner or child under the age of 18) who normally lives with you
  • other family members in exceptional circumstances where there is a high level of dependency who normally live with you

Identity and British national (overseas) status

You’ll need a valid passport to show proof of identity.

You can use a valid or expired British national (overseas) passport to show your British national (overseas) status.

If you do not have a British national (overseas) passport the Home Office may be able to look at records to check your status.

Hong Kong or UK residence

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

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

The list of evidence is not exhaustive. We may consider other forms of evidence 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 your partner, spouse or other family member, for example parental funding or your spouse’s salary earned by working in the UK
  • an offer of accommodation from family or friends

The list of evidence is not exhaustive. We may consider other forms of evidence on a case-by-case basis.

Evidence of your relationship

You’ll need to show evidence of your dependant’s relationship to you.

If they’re your spouse or civil partner

You must show a marriage or civil partnership certificate.

If they’re your unmarried partner

You’ll usually need to show that you’ve been living together in a relationship similar to a marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years.

If they’re your child or adult child

You’ll need to show evidence that you are their parent, adopted parent or guardian such as:

  • a full birth certificate
  • an adoption certificate
  • a court order, such as a special guardianship order

If they’re the partner or child under the age of 18 of your adult child (born on or after 1 July 1997)

You’ll need to show evidence of their partner’s relationship including a marriage or civil partnership certificate.

If they’re not married, they’ll need to show they’ve been living together in a relationship similar to a marriage or civil partnership for at least 2 years.

Where they have dependent children under the age of 18, they will need to show evidence that they are the parent, adopted parent or guardian such as:

  • a full birth certificate
  • an adoption certificate
  • a court order, such as a special guardianship order

What you can and cannot do

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

  • work
  • study

See the guidance for employers if you’re employing someone with leave outside the rules at the border.

You cannot:

  • get public funds

You will need to pay for any NHS care you get at the point you use it – unless it’s a service that’s free. You should have full health insurance throughout your stay with ‘Leave Outside the Rules’.

British nationals (overseas) who are already in the UK

If you’re already in the UK, you can apply for the BNO visa from within the UK. You can also apply from within the UK if you were granted ‘Leave Outside the Rules’ at the UK border when you arrived.

Published 22 July 2020
Last updated 31 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. 'Leave Outside the Rules' has been extended to 17 May 2021. Guidance has also been clarified to show that BNO visa applicants applying from outside the UK should wait until they have received a decision on their application to travel to the UK.

  2. Updated information to reflect that BNO visa applications are now open, 'Leave Outside the Rules' at the border has been extended until 31 March 2021, and applications for 'Leave Outside the Rules' in country have now closed.

  3. Updated information to reflect that BNO visa has opened.

  4. Updated information in "Applying for 'Leave Outside the Rules' from within the UK" section.

  5. Updated information on getting a refund for in-country 'Leave Outside the Rules' applications. Link to information on employing BN(O) citizens added.

  6. Information about the British National (Overseas) visa has been removed and published on a separate page. A link to the information has been added to this guide.

  7. Added information about applying for 'Leave Outside the Rules' if you're already in the UK or extending your 'Leave Outside the Rules' if your leave has expired. Added information for partners and children under the age of 18 of an adult born on or after 1 July 1997.

  8. Updated to advise families to travel to the UK together before the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa is available.

  9. Added requirement to have full health insurance as a person with 'Leave Outside the Rules'.

  10. First published.