How can we help?


British National Overseas visa route is now officially open

The Hong Kong BNO (or British National Overseas) visa route is now officially open. The route is specially aimed at residents of Hong Kong who hold a British National Overseas passport. Importantly the visa allows its holders to live, work and study in the UK.  

What is a British National Overseas Passport? 

The British National Overseas Passport was issued on a voluntary basis to citizens of Hong Kong before the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong to China. It is important to note that while confusingly the passport holders are called British overseas citizens, they remain subject to immigration control. 

Who is eligible for the BNO visa? 

The BNO visa is only open to: 

  • A British national (overseas) 
  • Aged 18 or older 
  • Resident of  
  • Hong Kong (if applying from outside the UK) or 
  • UK (if applying from within the UK) 
  • Proof that the applicant has enough money to support themselves (and their family) 

Family members of BNO visa holders can join the main applicants, however, they must apply at the same time as the main applicant. For the purposes of UK immigration rules, family members include: 

  • Husband, wife, civil partner or unmarried partner 
  • Child or grandchild under 18 
  • Child 18 or older, born on or after 1 July 1997 (and their partner or child under 18) 
  • Parent, grandparent, brother, sister, son or daughter (18 or older) if they live with you and are very dependent on you for their care 

The visa application costs (per applicant) £180 if applying for a 2year 6-month visa, or £250 if applying for a 5-year visa. The applicants must also pay the Immigration Health Surcharge which is currently £624 per year of visa sought per applicant. For example, the IHS will be £1560 for a 2.5-year visa, or £3120 for a 5-year visa (per applicant). 

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

View profile

+44 118 960 4605

The route is specially aimed at residents of Hong Kong who hold a British National Overseas passport. Importantly the visa allows its holders to live, work and study in the UK.  

Why should you apply for the BNO visa? 

If eligible, the BNO visa offers the visa holder (and their family members) the ability to live, work and study in the UK. It also offers a route to permanent residence (known as settlement) in the UK after 5 years. Following settlement, an applicant may also apply for British nationality after a further year. 

This visa route is much simpler than other UK visa routes which normally require Employer-based sponsorship, significant investment or an endorsement for a high skill level. 

The visa however is limited to those from a particular immigration status, and requires proof of this status, and residence in Hong Kong. The UK government estimates that there are currently 2.9 million BNO status holders who are eligible under this route. A further 2.3 million dependant will also be eligible if applying at the same time. 

The UK government expects around 300,000 applicants for this route. 

About this article

This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

Monica Atwal

Managing Partner

View profile

+44 118 960 4605

About this article

Read, listen and watch our latest insights

  • 22 September 2023
  • Employment

Talking Employment Law: New family friendly rights

In this first podcast in the ‘Talking Employment Law’ series, Lucy Densham Brown and Rebecca Dowle, members of the employment team summarise some of the big new family-friendly Bills that are working their way through parliament.

  • 20 September 2023
  • Commercial Real Estate

Commercial buyers beware of residential Stamp Duty Land Tax

This article discusses a recent case in which a property buyer calculated the Stamp Duty Land Tax due on the purchase at a lower rate, due to the mixed-use purpose of the property.

  • 19 September 2023
  • Privacy and Data Protection

Organisations’ use of social media: Data protection

Social media applications (or commonly known as ‘apps’) are being developed all the time and we are constantly being introduced to new social media platforms, some of which take almost no time to gain huge popularity.

  • 14 September 2023
  • Immigration

Entrepreneurial Dreams: What is the Innovator Founder Visa?

In an era defined by innovation and entrepreneurship, the United Kingdom has made a substantial effort towards fostering its reputation as a global hub for start-ups and innovators. The introduction of the UK’s ‘Innovator Founder’ route has marked a pivotal moment in the country’s immigration policy.

  • 11 September 2023
  • Corporate and M&A

Changes to the tax treatment of Employee Ownership Trusts

The government published a consultation on 18 July 2023 seeking the public’s views on its proposals to reform the tax treatment of Employee Ownership Trusts and Employee Benefit Trusts. Parties are invited to express their opinions via email via the government website until the consultation closes on 25 September 2023.

  • 08 September 2023
  • Immigration

Navigating the Latest Immigration Rules for Overstayers in the UK: A Comprehensive Guide for 2023

Staying beyond the expiration of your UK visa is a serious matter that, in most cases, can result in significant and long-lasting repercussions.