Following developments in Hong Kong, the Home Office announced that the government will bring in a scheme to grant persons with British National (Overseas) passports the right to get ‘leave to stay’ and settle in the UK.

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New potential route for British National (Overseas) applicants to settle in the UK

Following developments in Hong Kong, the Home Office announced that the government will bring in a scheme to grant persons with British National (Overseas) passports the right to get ‘leave to stay’ and settle in the UK.

At the beginning of July 2020, UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab made a statement to Parliament confirming a recently proposed UK immigration route for persons with the British National (Overseas) who wish to settle in the UK as long as they can financially support and accommodate themselves. The statement mentioned a 5-year visa option, which will give relevant applicant and their dependents the right to live, work or study in the United Kingdom for a 5-year period.  At the end of this, applicants may then qualify for ‘settled status’, and then apply for UK citizenship after 12 months settlement under existing rules and application processes.

British National (Overseas) status is one of six types of British nationality. At present, it is estimated that over 3 million people in Hong Kong hold BN(O) status. Whilst it is possible for BN(O) passport holders to visit the UK for 6 months without the need for a visa, there is at present no direct special or concessionary route for those wishing to settle in the UK.

In summary:

  1. Who would qualify for this settlement scheme?
  • Those holding British National (Overseas) status.
  • Minor children under the of 18 and with exceptions for adoption of a BN(O) citizen.
  • Spouse, civil partner, or unmarried partner (where cohabitation is met) of a BN(O) citizen
  1. What is the process leading to settlement?
  • Reside in the UK for 5 full years under the status of ‘leave to remain’ without spending more than 180 days abroad within any 12-month period.
  • Obtain ‘settled status’ and reside for a further 12 months.
  • Apply for naturalization as a British citizen and then a British passport.
  • ***An exception to the preceding 12-month rule: if the applicant is married to a British citizen, then naturalisation may be applied for immediately after securing ‘settled status’.
  1. Is this scheme limited to those only living in Hong Kong?
  • According to Gov.uk official guidance, “The BN(O) citizen must be ordinarily resident in Hong Kong, which includes those currently in the UK but who are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong”.
  • Therefore, whilst further clarification is required, it would seem that BN(O) status holders residing outside of Hong Kong and those who are studying, and wishing to extend their studies in the UK, may be able take advantage of this new route.
  1. What are the associated costs?
  • At present, no exact figures have been released by the UK government. When applying for this 5-year visa, additional fees may be subject to relevant costs, such as Immigration Health Surcharge. As of 1st October 2020, the total cost for the 5 years would be £3,120 per adult applicant and £2,350 for minors under 18 years of age.

To conclude, there still a lack of clarity on the requirements and application process. Downing Street are set to make further comments on the finer details of this new scheme as the UK approaches autumn. We will be posting regular updates on this matter, so be sure to keep in touch or follow us on Facebook to automatically receive these updates.

Want to know if you are eligible for BN(O) status?

We have a uniquely designed method to help determine whether you or a family member can qualify as a British National (Overseas). Should you wish to start on this process, please click HERE to submit an enquiry with regards to your situation. Alternatively, feel free to contact a member of our team on +44 (0) 20 3695 5383 or email info@passportia.com.


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