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New immigration route for British National Overseas from January 2021

On the 22 July 2020, the Home Office announced that a new visa category will come into force to enable Hong Kong - British nationals (overseas) citizens to enter the UK for work or study purposes.

The new category will come in force from January 2021.  British nationals (overseas) citizens will be able to apply for the same from outside or inside the UK. They will be able to enter or remain for an initial period of 30 months, which can be extended, or for a single total of 5 years. Successful applicants will be able to settle in the UK after completing the 60 months continues residence; however, they will not be able to access social welfare benefits until they are granted ILR.

Who is eligible?

If you are thinking to apply for this route, you must be able to show that:

Hold BN(O) Status
Normally live in Hong Kong or the UK;
Able to accommodate and support yourself financially without recourse to public funds;
Show a commitment to learning English, where appropriate
Have obtained a Tuberculosis test certificate from an approved clinic (if applying for Entry Clearance);

You must pay the Immigration Health Surcharge. Detailed guidance can be found here.

Can I bring my family with me?

Yes! The Home Office announced that qualifying BN(O) citizens who are applying for this new Scheme will be able to bring immediate family dependants such as their spouse and children aged under 18. Showing a much more flexible approach, the Home Office stated that BN(O) status is not required of dependants to be eligible for this route. However, grandparents and other relatives will not be eligible unless they qualify in their own rights.

Further information

On the 22 September 2020, the UKVI updated that Hong Kong BN(O) citizens who are unable to enter the UK on an existing immigration rule, may be able to obtain ‘’Leave outside the rules’’ at the UK border for a period of up to 6 months. This would also apply to any dependants who are seeking entry with the main BN(O) citizen. If ‘‘Leave outside the Rules’’ is granted, the individuals would be able to apply for the Hong Kong BN(O) Scheme in-country as soon as it is made available. It is, however, vital to bear in mind, that individuals that have been granted ‘’Leave outside the Rules’’ will be unable to access public funds or use the NHS for free. Therefore, they must ensure to obtain full health insurance throughout their stay up until they are granted leave under the Hong Kong BN(O) Scheme.

Are you a Hong Kong  BN(O) citizen already residing in the UK?

If your current leave is due to expire and you are looking to remain in-country, with a view to applying for leave to remain under this new Scheme: we might help. This will be depending on the expiry date of your current visa.

You can contact us via email, at enquiries@citylegalservices.co.uk or you can schedule a call with one of our advisers, here.

Disclaimer: No material or information provided on this website should be construed as legal advice. Readers should always seek appropriate professional advice to resolve their Legal Matters.
About the Author
Annamaria Zeka

  Annamaria Zeka

Anna joined the firm in 2019 as an Associate and has quickly become an integral part of our team, where she uses her extensive knowledge in personal immigration cases to assist clients.

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