This is a bespoke immigration route to enable British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) citizens ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, and their immediate family members, to move to the UK to work and study.
This new immigration route will open in January 2021 and you will be able to apply for this route from outside or inside the UK.
You will be able to apply to enter or remain in the UK for an initial period of 30 months, extendable by a further 30 months, or a single period of 5 years. It is a five-year route to indefinite leave to remain.
You will be able to work and study but you won’t be able to access public funds such as social welfare benefits.
BN(O)s and their family members arriving at the UK border before January 2021 can be granted “Leave Outside the Rules” for a limited period of six months.
Please visit the UK government website for further information on the eligibility criteria and application process.
The main applicant must be a BN(O) citizen. BN(O)s will not have to hold a valid BN(O) passport to prove their status.
Spouses, partners, and children under the age of 18 will be eligible to apply for visas as dependants of the main applicant.
Ordinary residence in Hong Kong:
Both the main applicant BN(O) and their dependants must be “ordinarily resident in Hong Kong”. This includes BN(O)s currently in the UK who are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong.
Applicants and their dependants will have to demonstrate that they can accommodate and support themselves in the UK for at least six months.
There will be no English language requirement for the initial visa, but after residing in the UK for five years, applicants applying for indefinite leave to remain “will require a good knowledge of the English language”.
Tuberculosis test certificate:
Applicants from Hong Kong will need to supply a tuberculosis test certificate with their initial applications. Further details on tuberculosis testing in Hong Kong are published on the government website.
Applicants must “have no serious criminal convictions, have not otherwise engaged in behaviour which the UK Government deems not conducive to the public good, and not be subject to other general grounds for refusal set out in the Immigration Rules". This is a standard requirement for all visa routes.
Further details on the application process will be updated on this page once released by the UK government.
Successful applicants will receive a digital-only visa which will be accessible online.
Visa holders will be permitted to work in employment or self-employment. They will also be free to apply to higher education institutions to study in the UK. Children can be enrolled in state schools.
Until the new visa route is up and running, Border Force Officers will be permitted to grant Leave Outside the Rules for six months to BN(O) citizens and their accompanying dependants at the UK border. This can only be granted if they do not satisfy Border Force that they are eligible for entry via another immigration route. Arrivals will need to be able to demonstrate the following to Border Force Officers:
• that they have BN(O) status – a BN(O) passport is not required as Border Force Officers will be able to access the majority of historical records, although holding current or former BN(O) passports may make the process quicker;
• that they are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong;
• evidence of dependants’ family links to the main applicant;
• the ability to accommodate and support themselves for their initial period in the UK; and
• that they have no serious criminal convictions, have not otherwise engaged in behaviour which the UK Government deems not conducive to the public good, or be subject to other general grounds for refusal set out in the Immigration Rules.
As a person with ‘Leave Outside the Rules’ you and your dependants can work and study but you cannot access public funds or use the NHS for free (except for limited free services) – you’ll need full health insurance throughout your stay with ‘Leave Outside the Rules’.