What is a BNO Visa?
The British National (Overseas) visa is a UK settlement route for British National Overseas status holders who usually reside in Hong Kong, the UK or the Channel Islands. From 30 November 2022 onwards, Children of BNO status holders can apply independently for a BNO Visa.
With this visa, you may live, work and study in the UK without restrictions and eventually acquire British citizenship. Family dependents such as partners, children and parents can also apply under this route.
The UK Government introduced the Hong Kong BNO visa in response to China’s parliament imposing a strict security law on Hong Kong. As such, there is no cap on the number of visas issued. As of March 2022, more than 90,000 overseas applications were granted under the BNO route.
This post discusses who can apply for a BNO visa, the application requirements, documentary evidence and how to make a valid application.
BNO Visa Requirements
To qualify under the BNO category, you must meet the following requirements:
- You are aged 18 or older
- You are a British national (overseas) or the child of a British national (overseas) born on or after 1 July 1997
- If applying outside the UK, your permanent home must be in Hong Kong. Your primary residence should be in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man or Hong Kong if you’re applying in the UK.
- The first time you apply, you must prove that you have enough money to support yourself and your family members for at least six months while in the UK.
- Eligible family members applying at the same time as you include your partner, dependent children and parents
Applicants must prove their identity, for example, using any applicable nationality passport. The Home Office should be able to check your BNO passport details from their records in case you do not have a valid BNO passport.
For an initial BNO Visa application or if you are in the UK on the Youth Mobility Scheme Visa, you must prove that you have sufficient funds to support yourself and your family members for six months. Proof of funds may be in the form of savings or income from your current or potential employment in the UK or a third-party sponsor, including friends or other family members. An offer of work does not usually count as evidence unless you’re transferring to a job in the UK with your current employer.
How much you need depends on how many family members are applying with you. For example, you’ll need about:
- £2,000 as a single adult
- £3,100 as a couple with a child
- £4,600 as a couple with three children
- £9,200 as a couple with two parents and two adult children
If you have been living in the UK for 12 months or more, you will usually not need to prove the maintenance requirement.
To discuss your BNO Visa application with an experienced immigration adviser, contact our team on 0208 757 5751 or complete our contact form.
BNO Visa Family Members
Eligible family members must usually apply at the same time as you. The following family members can apply:
Partner or Spouse
You must prove that you are in a civil partnership or marriage recognised in the UK. In the case of unmarried partners, the couple should have been living together in a relationship akin to marriage when making an application.
Children under 18
In most cases, children under 18 need to apply with both parents unless:
- one parent has sole responsibility for them
- one parent already has a BNO visa
- one parent has the right to live in the UK permanently, for example, if they are a British citizen
You must prove that the child usually lives with you unless they live away from home to study or apply after you’ve already moved to the UK.
Children 18 or older
Adult children of BNOs may apply under this route to come and settle in the UK with their partners and children. These individuals do not need to have been born in Hong Kong to qualify, provided they are the child of a BNO, born on or after 1 July 1997, and living in Hong Kong, the UK or Crown Dependencies.
Adult dependent relatives may include a parent or grandparent, a brother or sister or a son or daughter. You must prove that they are highly dependent on you. Further, they must prove that they reside with you, require long-term care and support due to old age, an illness or disability, and cannot afford to be cared for in Hong Kong.
Visa Application Cost
To apply for a British National (Overseas) visa or to apply to switch to or extend one, you must pay the Home Office visa application fee and the healthcare surcharge.
The Home office application fee will vary depending on how long you apply for. Each applicant must pay £180 for a 2.5-year visa or £250 for a five years visa.
You and your family will each need to pay the Immigration healthcare surcharge. For each adult (18 or older), the IHS fee costs £624 per year. For example, if applying for five years, you will need £3120. For children under 18, the IHS fee will be £470 per year.
How to Apply
The application form must be completed and submitted online. As part of the application process, each applicant may need to go to an appointment to give their biometric information or use the UK Immigration IDV app to scan their BNO HKSAR (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region) or EEA passport. If you must attend an application centre, your passport may be retained while processing the application.
Each family member must make their application as your dependant and use the application reference number of the main applicant when they apply. The application number will be a Global Web Form (GWF) or Unique Application Number (UAN).
Supporting Documents for BNO Visa Application
When you apply, you must provide a valid passport or another travel document that shows your identity and nationality. You do not need a BNO passport to apply or to travel to the UK. You must provide a certified translation of documents not in English. You’ll also need to provide evidence:
- that you have a permanent home in Hong Kong, the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man
- that you have enough money to support yourself and your family
- of your relationship with family members
- of your tuberculosis (TB) test certificate if you did not already provide it when you arrived in the UK.
The specific documents required will depend on your circumstances.
You’ll need to provide up to 3 documents that show your permanent home address. This can include:
- household or utility bills
- a visa or residence permit
- bank statements
- a letter from an employer confirming your employment
- records of rent or mortgage payments
- an appointment letter from your GP or other healthcare professional
Your family members will need to provide evidence that their permanent home address is the same as yours unless both of the following are true:
- they’re your partner or child under 18
- they’re applying after you’ve already moved to the UK
You must prove that you can support yourself and any family members for six months in the UK. Evidence of finances may include:
- bank or savings account statements
- proof of income from self-employment
- proof of income from rental property
- a letter from friends or family with evidence (such as bank statements or payslips) that they have the money to support you and your family
- a tenancy or mortgage agreement
At least one piece of evidence must be dated no more than 31 days before you submit your application.
If your family members are applying, they’ll need to provide evidence of your relationship with them.
- a copy of a marriage or civil partnership certificate
- a birth certificate or adoption certificate for children
- evidence that their permanent home address is the same as yours
You will need to provide three different, recent documents proving you have a permanent home in Hong Kong, the UK, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.
TB Test Certificate
If you provided a TB certificate to come to the UK, you do not need to show one again.
Otherwise, you’ll need to provide a TB Test Certificate to stay in the UK if you come from Hong Kong or another country where you must take the TB test.
Indefinite Leave to Remain after BNO Visa
If you’ve lived in the UK for five years, you may be able to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. With ILR, you will be free from immigration time restrictions.
You can count time spent in the UK on any visa that allows you to apply for settlement, as long as your last visa was a BNO visa. For example, a family visa, Skilled Worker Visa, and Ancestry Visa.
With 12 months of ILR status, you may become eligible to register as a British citizen under the British Nationality Act 1981. This requires you to complete Form B(OTA). Non-BNO family members must apply to naturalise as British citizens with Form AN.
Frequently asked questions
The general rule is that, for a child to qualify for ILR, both parents must have obtained ILR or be applying for ILR at the same time as the child.
According to the “Continuous residence” BNO visa 180 days requirement, you must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any year.
If you are applying from outside the UK, once your BNO visa is approved, you will receive a visa vignette endorsed in your passport. If you apply from within the UK, you will be issued a BRP Card.