Two weeks after the Hong Kong BNO Visa opened, The Times reported that over 5,000 applications have already been received. The immigration route for British Overseas Nationals (BNO) offers up to 5.4 million Hongkongers a five-year visa and a path to full British citizenship. It is predicted that around 300,000 people will apply for the visa within the next five years.
Lord Patten of Barnes, the last British Governor of Hong Kong, commented:
“One of the most positive things that any government has done has been to offer a route to safety and citizenship in Britain to those for whom we have in the past borne some responsibility. I think the home secretary and the foreign secretary have been admirably swift.
“The fact that the number is already 5,000 gives some indication of the concern felt by people in Hong Kong that their freedoms have been taken away and this comes of course at a time when the trial has opened for a number of those who have been regarded as moderate founders of democracy campaigns in Hong Kong. I’m sure that many of the talented people who come from Hong Kong will be made very welcome here and will make a huge contribution to our country.”
Below is a quick guide to applying for a Hong Kong BNO Visa. Our Immigration Solicitors in London and Birmingham can provide expert advice on making an application, giving you the best chance of having you and your family members’ visas approved.
British Overseas Territories citizens from Hong Kong who did not register as British nationals (overseas) and had no other nationality or citizenship on 30 June 1997 became British overseas citizens on 1 July 1997.
If you are over the age of 24, you are likely to have BNO status.
You can apply for a Hong Kong BNO Visa from outside the country or within the UK (almost half of the current applicants are already in Britain, having been granted leave via another immigration route).
If you are applying from outside the UK, your permanent home must be in Hong Kong. If you are making an in-country application, your permanent home must be in the UK, Hong Kong, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. You will need to include up to three documents to prove your address: for example, a utility bill, bank statements, or a letter from a local authority.
Your dependent family members may also be eligible to apply for a BNO Visa with you. Dependent family members are:
Documents such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, and/or evidence that adult family member applicants live with you will need to be included in your application.
Unless you have been living in the UK for 12 months or more, you will need to show you have enough money to support yourself and any dependent family members for six months.
The amounts required are:
All applicants will need to pay the healthcare surcharge, which is as follows:
The healthcare surcharge for children is:
The Hong Kong BNO Visa initially allows you to stay in the UK for five years. After this time, you can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain. To be eligible, you and any family members applying will need to pass the English language test and the Life in the UK test.
Your immigration lawyer will assist you with making your application and stay in contact over the five-year period to ensure that when it comes time to apply for Settlement, you and your family have taken the steps required to be eligible.
Please phone our office on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our immigration lawyers to discuss how we can help you with your Hong Kong BNO Visa application.
Obtaining British Citizenship is a long-held dream for many people. Our Birmingham and London based Immigration Solicitors take great pride in helping our clients achieve their dream. For most people, once they have Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) or Settled Status (SS), obtaining British Citizenship is straightforward. However, a sizable number of citizenship applications are refused.
In this article, we discuss the eligibility requirements for British Citizenship and look in detail at some of the common reasons for refusal, many of which fall under the ‘good character’ requirement.
To be eligible to apply for British Citizenship via naturalisation, you must show you:
There is also a requirement of ‘continuous residence’ which means you should not have:
If you have had leave to remain in the UK under a business immigration route such as the Skilled Worker Visa, Investor Visa, or Innovator Visa it is imperative that you work with an Immigration Solicitor throughout the visa period to ensure you receive the best advice on meeting the ‘continuous residency’ requirements should you have to frequently travel for business.
Although the British Nationality Act 1981 does not define ‘good character’, the immigration guidance states that any of the following indicates a lack of good character:
The guidance asserts:
“Each application must be carefully considered on an individual basis on its own merits. You must be satisfied that an applicant is of good character on the balance of probabilities. To facilitate this, applicants must answer all questions asked of them during the application process honestly and in full. They must also inform the Home Office of any significant event (such as a criminal conviction or a pending prosecution) or any mitigating factors that could have a bearing on the good character assessment.”
If you have a criminal record you will normally be denied citizenship if you have been sentenced to four or more years for a crime, regardless of how long ago the offence was committed. You are also unlikely to be granted citizenship if you have committed a sexual offence or an offence that has caused serious harm, and /or you are a persistent offender.
Applicants must declare any fines they have received as they count as a criminal conviction. Failure to mention that you have received a fine could result in your British Citizenship application being refused on the grounds of deception.
A person is notorious if they have become well-known for bad behaviour or qualities and/or immoral deeds. For example, Imelda Marcos gained notoriety for her extravagance whilst the people of the Philippines experienced terrible poverty.
The guidance provides other examples of notorious behaviour, including:
If you have been dishonest or deceptive in your dealings with a government department there is a high chance you will be refused British Citizenship. Dishonest or deceptive behaviour could include:
If you made a genuine mistake and there was no intention to mislead officials, your application will not be refused on the grounds of dishonesty or deceit. However, it can be difficult to prove a lack of intention.
The best way to ensure your British Citizenship application is processed smoothly and successfully is to instruct an immigration lawyer. If you are concerned that you may not meet the ‘good character’ requirement, an Immigration Solicitor, who will know how immigration caseworkers make their decisions, will examine your situation and advise you on how to best prepare your application.
Please phone our office on 0121 777 7715 to make an appointment with one of our Immigration Solicitors to discuss how we can help you with your British Citizenship application or refusal.