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The UK government has announced details on a new immigration route for holders of Hong Kong British National (Overseas) status. The system will open to applicants from January 2021.There will be no cap on the number of applicants.

Who is entitled to BN(O) status?
Essentially, British Dependent Territories Citizens with a connection to Hong Kong were entitled to register as British in the 10 years leading up to handover of Hong Kong. No person born after 30 June 1997 is a British National (Overseas), and the status cannot be passed by descent.

In order to be eligible for the new immigration route, applicants must meet the following requirements:

* Hold British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status
* Normally live in Hong Kong
* Evidence they can accommodate and financially support themselves in the United Kingdom for at least six months
* Not have any serious criminal convictions
* Demonstrate a commitment to learn English (if applicable)
* Hold an approved TB certificate
* Pay the relevant fees (these are under review by the UK Home Office)

The spouse or partner and children under the age of 18 of BN(O) citizens may also be eligible to apply for the BN(O) visa.

How It Works
Applications do not have to be filed in Hong Kong and therefore can be made anywhere in the world. Successful applicants will receive a digital visa and will have the right to work and study in the United Kingdom.

The visa can be granted for an initial period of 30 months, which is then renewable for a further 30 months leading to a total of five years. Alternatively, the visa can be issued for a single period of five years up front.

After five years of continuous residence in the United Kingdom, applicants may be eligible for indefinite leave to remail (ILR) subject to satisfying the rules in place at that time. Those who obtain ILR can then apply for full British citizenship after a further 12 months.
Read the full policy guidance for more information about this new visa.

What’s Next
Full guidance for applicants will be published by the Home Office later this year.
The Hong Kong BN(O) visa will be open for applications starting January 2021. However, the UK government will be able to consider granting leave outside the rules for six months to BN(O) citizens and their accompanying dependents who wish to travel sooner.
BN(O) citizens who are currently in the United Kingdom will be able to apply and switch to the Hong Kong BN(O) visa from within the United Kingdom starting January 2021.

For assistance on preparing an application for January 2021, please email EA Law on info@ealaw-solicitors.com. Subject heading- ‘BN(O) further information’