How can we help?


The Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa route opens from January 2021

The UK government has finally published official guidance on the new Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa. Despite the ‘British national’ tag, the immigration route shares similarities with other immigration routes to the UK. The route official opens in January 2021.

Who can apply?

The route, as the name suggests, is open to individuals who hold the British national (overseas) or BN (O) status. The BNO status was provided to citizens of Hong Kong, who were able to register for this status before 1July 1997 and did not have any other nationality or citizenship on 30 June 1997.

Those with BNO status, must also demonstrate that:

  • They normally live in Hong Kong
  • Can maintain and accommodate themselves (and their families, if relevant) in the UK for at least 6 months
  • Demonstrate a commitment to learn English, where appropriate
  • Provide a valid Tuberculosis test certificate
  • Pay the visa fee, and the Immigration Health Surcharge.
What status does this visa route provide?

If successful, the applicant’s status changes from BNO, to Hong Kong BNO visa, which allows them to work and study in the UK for an initial period of 2.5 years, which can then be extended for a further 2.5 years.

How do you obtain nationality?

After 5 years on the Hong Kong BNO visa, the applicant can normally apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain, provided other conditions are met.

They must then wait a further year before applying for British nationality, unless married to a British citizen (in which case, they can apply immediately after obtaining Indefinite leave to remain).

The route, as the name suggests, is open to individuals who hold the British national (overseas) or BN (O) status.

How is this route different to the current BNO status?

British National Overseas citizens are not allowed to work or study in the UK. They are treated as any other visitors to the UK, if visiting the UK. If outside the UK, the only tangible benefit they may have is being able to seek consular assistance from a UK diplomatic post.

The Hong Kong BNO visa provides them a path to settlement, with an ongoing right to work and study in the UK. They are, however, not allowed to claim public funds.

More information

If you require more information on this visa, or intend on applying under this route, you can contact our immigration team.

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.

About this article

Read, listen and watch our latest insights

  • 19 July 2024
  • Immigration

UK Immigration Rules for Business Visitors: Flexibility and Controversies

The UK’s immigration rules have changed significantly in the past five years and have introduced greater flexibility for non-EEA nationals who wish to visit the UK as business visitors.

  • 17 July 2024
  • Commercial Real Estate

The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024: what does it mean for my leasehold property? 

The leasehold system in the UK has been subject to some unfavourable press for some time now.

  • 15 July 2024
  • Privacy and Data Protection

The duty to protect third parties: is your DSAR response compliant?

Responding to a data subject access request (DSAR) may feel like a daunting process. It requires a solid understanding of the data subject’s rights, and of the meaning of personal data.

  • 10 July 2024
  • Employment

Redundancy : Back to Basics FAQs

Redundancy can be a scary and overwhelming time both for employees being made redundant, and for those that have to make the decision. It is important for both parties to know their rights and obligations in this time.

  • 09 July 2024
  • Litigation and dispute resolution

Buyer Beware: Practical Guidance for Breach of Warranty in an SPA

Are you buying a business? Whether you are buying shares in a company or purchasing its assets… the general Latin common law principle “caveat emptor” applies.

  • 08 July 2024
  • Corporate and M&A

Navigating corporate transparency: ECCTA reforms series

This is the second article in a series exploring the changes brought by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (ECCTA).