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FAQs about Hong Kong BN(O) Visa & UK Education

FAQs about Hong Kong BN(O) Visa & UK Education

As more detail of the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa emerges, many adult learners and parents are re-considering relocating to the UK and reviewing the UK education plan for themselves and their children. Here we have gathered a list of frequently asked questions to help you make an informed plan.

Type Boarding School, Further Education & Sixth Form College, University

FAQ #1 – What are the changes to the rights of British Nationals (Overseas)?

Based on information released so far, the British government will introduce a new Hong Kong BN(O) Visa, providing an immigration route to BNO through which they will be allowed to reside, work and study in the UK, with a pathway to settlement and then full British Citizenship.

The Hong Kong BN(O) Visa route will be open for applications from 31st January 2021. Many details are yet to be announced but Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has promised a simple and generous approach to the visa, so that Hongkongers who wish to live in the UK will likely to be able to do so.

  • The new Hong Kong BN(O) Visa will allow Hongkongers with BNO status to live, work and study in the UK for up to five years.
  • Applicants will be required to pay a visa fee, and the Immigration Health Surcharge to use the National Health Service (NHS) – in the same way as other current visa applicants do.
  • Applicants can apply for 5 years’ leave from the outset, or in two applications of 30 months’ leaves.
  • Applicants can apply for the visa from Hong Kong or from within the UK.
  • There will be no quota on numbers, nor will there be any skills tests or income requirements.

FAQ #2 – How do BNO acquire British Citizenship through the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa?

Holders of the new Hong Kong BN(O) Visa will be eligible to apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain after 5 years of residence in the UK. After a further year of settlement, they are will be eligible to apply for British Citizenship.

When applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship, applicants must meet the rules for continuous residence – and this is where the idea of allowable absences comes in! These are the requirements about continuous residence under existing rules:

  • When applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain: Allowable absences of up to 180 days in any 12-month period.
  • When applying for British Citizenship: Allowable absences of up to 450 days within 5 years (90 days per year on average) before the application, and absences of up to 90 days the year before the application.
Stage Status Allowable Absences (Days per Year)
The 1st – 5th year Hong Kong BN(O) Visa 90 to 180 Days
The 6th year Indefinite Leave to Remain 90 Days
The 7th year British Citizenship N/A

FAQ #3 – How much will the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa cost? Is there any additional fees?

On 22nd October 2020, the British Government announced the visa application fees for the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa:

  • Hong Kong BN(O) Visa: £250 (for a 5-Year Visa), £180 (for each 30-Month Visa)
  • British Citizenship: £1,206
  • Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS): £624 / Year (Adult Applicant), £470 / Year (Child Applicant under 18) (Effective from October 2020)

The Hong Kong BN(O) Visa will last for up to 5 years. Applicants will have the option to apply for 5 years’ leave from the outset, or in two applications of 30 months’ leaves:

Length of Visa No. of Application Visa Fees Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS)
5 Years 1 £250 £3,120 (Adult Applicant), £2,350 (Child Applicant under 18)
30 months 2 £180 £1,560 (Adult Applicant), £1,175 (Child Applicant under 18)

FAQ #4 – What are the eligibility requirements to apply for the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa?

  • The British National (Overseas) Status: It’s required that applicants hold BNO status, but they are not required to renew their BN(O) passports.
  • Applicants must hold a valid passport that enables them to travel to the UK (ie. applicants can travel to the UK with a HKSAR Passport or a BN(O) Passport)
  • Applicants must be ordinarily residents in Hong Kong.
  • Applicants must demonstrate the ability to financially support themselves in the UK for a minimum of 6 months.
  • Applicants must demonstrate the commitment to learn English (certain level of English proficiency must be shown when applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain)
  • Applicants are required to take a tuberculosis test (TB test), in line with current visa regulations.
  • Applicants shall have no serious criminal convictions.

FAQ #5 – Should I renew my BN(O) Passport?

For the sole purpose of applying for the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa, you are not required to renew your BN(O) Passports. Applicants with BNO status can apply for the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa without a valid BN(O) Passport, and enter the UK with other passports (such as a HKSAR Passport).

FAQ #6 – How will my spouse/partner and dependents be benefited under the scheme?

BNO with their immediate family dependents (including their spouse/partner and children aged under 18) are welcome to relocate to the UK via the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa scheme. As long as one of the parents hold BNO status, children under 18 will be eligible to apply for a dependent visa, which will also allow them to live, work or study in the UK.

FAQ #7 – What if the children are over 18? Will they still be able to benefit from the scheme?

The British Government has previously indicated that they are to maintain a consistent definition of dependents, which means that children aged 18 or above will not be considered as dependents.

However, in view of the special circumstances in Hong Kong, the British Government has promised they will consider these applications on a case-by-case basis, if applications are made together as a family unit and the evidence are there to prove that the children over 18 are still dependent on the BN(O).

FAQ #8 – Are children (dependents) of BNO eligible for free education at state schools in the UK?

Yes! Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, announced on 3/8 (Monday) that school-age children are eligible for free education at state schools.

FAQ #9 – Are children (dependents) of BNO eligible to pay university tuition fees as local students?

UK universities currently charge two sets of tuition fees to local and international students.

Under existing policies, British Citizens who live outside the UK will have to pay the international fees. If they’re to be eligible for local fees, the general rule is that students will need to demonstrate that they have resided in the UK for at least 3 years.

Below is a comparison of the current local and international fees:

Local Tuition Fees (Annual) International Tuition Fees (Please Find out from the University Profiles)
England Up to £9,250 BathLiverpool Hope
Wales Up to £9,000 * CardiffTrinity St David
Scotland Free * GlasgowStrathclyde
Northern Ireland Up to £4,395 * Queen’s BelfastUlster
* Local tuition fees differ in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Only students residing in the same country can enjoy local tuition fees (e.g. A family has to live in Scotland if their children were to be considered for local fees at a Scottish university)

FAQ #10 – What immigration control am I subject to after I enter the UK with the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa?

Holders of Hong Kong BN(O) Visa are free to go in and out of the UK, but are subject to existing immigration controls.

When applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British Citizenship, applicants must meet the rules for continuous residence – and this is where the idea of allowable absences comes in! These are the requirements about continuous residence under existing rules:

  • When applying for Indefinite Leave to Remain: Allowable absences of up to 180 days in any 12-month period.
  • When applying for British Citizenship: Allowable absences of up to 450 days within 5 years (90 days per year on average) before the application, and absences of up to 90 days the year before the application.
Stage Status Allowable Absences (Days per Year)
The 1st – 5th year Hong Kong BN(O) Visa 90 to 180 Days
The 6th year Indefinite Leave to Remain 90 Days
The 7th year British Citizenship N/A

FAQ #11 – What is LOTR (Leave Outside the Rules)?

While the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa will only open for applications from January 2021, the British Government understands that some applicants may wish to leave Hong Kong before that. The British Government therefore has announced that they may consider granting these applicants a six-month visa at the border under the Leave Outside the Rule (LOTR) policy, which will come with the right to live, work and study in the UK. These applicants can then apply for the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa from within the UK when it’s open.

It should be pointed out that applicants will only be considered to enter the UK through LOTR, if they are not eligible for entry via other immigration routes. We therefore do not recommend students substituting their student visas with the LOTR.

BNO parents who would like to enter the UK through LOTR and apply for a dependent visa for their children must also travel to the UK as a family unit.

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Updated: 2020-9-9