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New visa for British National (Overseas) (‘BNO’) Status holders

29 January 2021

Hong Kong’s British National (Overseas) passport holders and their immediate dependants will be able to apply under a bespoke visa route opening from 31 January 2021.

The UK government will introduce a new visa helping BNO holders leave Hong Kong following the Chinese government’s imposition of the National Security Law in Hong Kong last year, in breach of its commitments under international law.

The visa route will provide for freedom, safety and security for those eligible by enabling them to come to the UK to live, study and work. After 5 years in the UK, they will be able to apply for settlement followed by British Citizenship after a further 12 months.

The UK government has stated it is working with civil society groups and others to welcome BNO status holders to all parts of the UK and help them integrate. However, at this stage it is questionable what support they will receive. Furthermore, China have since retaliated by saying it will no longer recognise BNO passports as valid travel or proof of identity documents.

As a result, it is likely that employers and educations institutions will see more individuals with the BNO visa going forward.

It is important they are familiar with this immigration category as eligible individuals will be able to work and study in the UK and eligible children will be able to attend school if they are under 18 and education and training if they are aged 16 to 19.

Employers will need to ensure they check all applicants’ right to work in the UK correctly in order to prevent illegal working. Failure to do so will lead to a penalty if an individual is employed without the correct permission to work in the UK. Further information about the BNO right to work will be published soon.

Further information about the visa can be found here.

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