As we reported last month, the British Government has promised to provide a dedicated visa route to the UK for British Nationals (Overseas) from Hong Kong.
As we explained, the BN(O) passport provides very limited rights and does not confer the right to settle in the UK.
Now the Home Secretary has announced details of the new visa, which will be called the Hong Kong BN(O) visa.
As expected, this visa will provide a five-year route to settlement. It will permit any legal form of existence in the UK (work in employment, running a business, study etc) as long as the applicant is financially self-sufficient: no recourse to public funds will be permitted.
BN(O)s will be eligible to apply whether or not they hold a BN(O) passport. Dependants will also be able to apply and – this is the interesting bit – dependants do not themselves have to be BN(O)s. The definition of “dependant” largely follows the normal rule for UK immigration: partner or child under the age of 18. However, there is provision for children aged 18 or over if there are deemed to be exceptional circumstances.
These provisions are fairly generous. They were framed against the legal background that it is no longer possible to apply for BN(O) status, and presumably the Home Secretary felt that she had made the provisions as broad as she reasonably could.
Not only this, but this application looks as though it will not be as complicated as those for some other types of visa, and there will not be the complexity of rules about financial maintenance that some applications have, or any English language requirement.
The initial grant of leave will be for 30 months, which will be potentially extendable for another 30 months, after which settlement becomes a possibility. Here the full force of English language and Life in the UK test requirements will apply, but those whose English is not up to scratch will have plenty of time to practise.
And applicants for settlement will also encounter the 180 days per 12 months rule for time spent outside the UK, and this is something should be borne in mind from the outset.
If you want help and the advice with the Hong Kong BN(O) visa we at GSN Immigration will be able to assist you. Applications should be possible from January 2021.