The new visa scheme, open to holders of a British National (Overseas) passport and their immediate dependants, is now available with 300,000 people expected to apply.

British Nationals Overseas (BNOs) are British overseas territories citizens who were able to register as BNOs by virtue of their connection with Hong Kong before 1 July 1997.

In response to the Chinese and Hong Kong Governments no longer recognising BNO passports as valid travel documents, the British Government has introduced a new visa category which enables BNOs and their immediate family members to apply for five-year visas that enable them to live, work and study in the UK.

In a nutshell…

  • The applicant must already be a BNO citizen. It is not possible to apply for this status now.
  • If applying from outside the UK, the applicant must normally live in Hong Kong. If already in the UK, the applicant must normally live in Hong Kong, the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man.
  • The applicant is required to show that they can maintain and accommodate themselves and any family members for at least 6 months in the UK.
  • Applicants applying from Hong Kong may need to obtain a TB certificate.

Can family members apply?

The BNOs immediate family members can apply for a visa in line with the BNO. This includes:

  • husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner;
  • child or grandchild under 18; or
  • parent, grandparent, brother, sister, son or daughter (18 or older) if they live with the applicant and are very dependent on them for their care

This is much broader than the usual definition of dependant which does not allow, parents, grandparents, grandchildren or siblings to apply.

What about ILR?

Once a BNO has lived in the UK for 5 years he or she and their family can apply to settle in the UK (also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain or ILR), which means they can remain in the UK indefinitely, with no restrictions on their ability to live or work in the UK. After holding ILR for 12 months, it is possible to apply for British citizenship.

What are the costs?

The Home Office application fee for the initial application is:

  • £180 if applying for 30 months (2 years and 6 months); or
  • £250 if applying for 5 years.
  • The Immigration Health Surcharge is payable when the application is submitted. The charge is £624 per year for adults and £470 per year for children under 18 years.

Author: Neha Solanki

Speak to our Immigration team should you have any questions or queries about the BNO or any other immigration query you have.