The BNO visa, officially known as the British National (Outside) Visa, is a unique legal offer provided by the UK government. This type of visa was created specifically for Hong Kong citizens who hold BNO passports.
The origin of the UK BN(O) visa is linked to Hong Kong’s history as a former British colony. When Hong Kong was handed back to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, Hong Kong residents were granted a special BNO passport as recognition of their unique status.
However, in recent years, with political changes and the introduction of the National Security Act, many Hong Kong citizens have begun to feel their rights and freedoms have been threatened. In response to these changes, the UK government has developed this visa program.
In addition to the benefits already mentioned, BN(O) visa holders also have:
- The right to access the British healthcare system.
- The opportunity to participate in social and cultural programs in the UK.
- Access to UK educational institutions on preferential terms.
The BNO visa is not just an opportunity for Hong Kong citizens to move to the UK. It is a symbol of the UK’s commitment to Hong Kong residents, an affirmation of the ongoing historical and cultural ties between the two countries. This type of visa emphasizes the UK’s desire to uphold the freedom, rights and values that are common to both sides.
Opportunities and Benefits of The BN(O) Visa For Its Holders
The UK BN(O) visa in the UK provides British National (Outside) passport holders and their close relatives with unique opportunities and benefits to live, work and study in the UK. It is important to note that there are two main routes for this visa: the BN(O) Status Holder Route and the BN(O) Family Member Route.
BN(O) Status Holder Route
This route is for principal BN(O) passport holders. Under this route, holders of such a passport can:
- Live and work in the UK without restriction.
- Have access to public services, including the NHS healthcare system.
- Enter UK educational institutions on equal terms with UK citizens.
- After 5 years of residence be able to apply for permanent right of residence.
BN(O) Family Member Route
This route allows close relatives of the primary passport holder to submit a BNO visa application. Close relatives include spouses, partners and children under the age of 18. Under this route, relatives are entitled to:
- Live, work and study in the UK.
- Use all public services in a similar way to primary visa holders.
- After 5 years of residency, also be able to claim permanent right of residence.
The BN(O) visa gives its holders and their families a multi-faceted right to live and work in the UK. This visa recognizes the special ties between the UK and Hong Kong citizens and provides them with the opportunity to maintain their ties with British society and culture.
How Many People Have BNO Status
British National Overseas visa, or British National (Outside) status, is a unique status granted to Hong Kong citizens. This status and subsequent political developments affecting Hong Kong have been key factors in considering the potential for Hong Kong citizens to relocate to the UK.
Approximately 2.9 million Hong Kong citizens are eligible for BN(O) status. However, not all holders of this status have chosen to emigrate or even apply for this visa category. According to various studies, tens of thousands of Hong Kong citizens have already moved to the UK since the introduction of the new BNO visa UK rules.
Predicting future migration flows is a difficult task as various factors, including the political environment, economic conditions and each individual’s personal circumstances, influence the decision to emigrate. Nevertheless, given the current political environment and enhanced security measures in Hong Kong, it can be assumed that the interest in moving to the UK will continue and even increase in the coming years.
The UK, recognizing its historical and cultural ties with Hong Kong, has given BN(O) status holders the opportunity to relocate and build a new life in its territory. While the exact numbers of future emigration remain a matter of debate, one thing is certain: the UK and Hong Kong will remain closely linked for many years to come.
BNO Eligibility And Alternative Routes To Immigration To The UK for Hong Kong Nationals
Eligibility for BNO status
British National (Outside) or BNO status was introduced for Hong Kong citizens prior to the handover of Hong Kong from the UK to China in 1997.
Citizens who were born before July 1, 1997 in Hong Kong and had the right to reside in Hong Kong at the time of the handover are eligible for a BNO passport.
However, this status is not automatically granted. Hong Kong citizens had to apply for a BNO passport before the completion of the devolution process in 1997.
Alternative immigration routes for Hong Kong citizens without BNO status
For those Hong Kong citizens without BNO status, there are other routes available to immigrate to the UK:
- Tir 1 (Investor): Those who are willing to invest heavily in the UK economy may be able to move via this route.
- Tir 2 (General Visa): This route is for professionals who have received a job offer from an accredited employer in the UK.
- Tir 4 (Student Visa): Students who want to study at UK educational institutions can use this route.
- Tir 5 (Youth Mobility Program Visa): Hong Kong citizens between the ages of 18 and 30 can use this program to work and travel in the UK for two years.
Despite the special status of BNO, Hong Kong nationals have different routes to move and live in the UK, depending on their personal, professional and financial circumstances.
Opinion of the authorities and the public about BN(O)
With recent political developments in Hong Kong, the British government has decided to extend the rights of BN(O) status holders, giving them the opportunity to move, live and work in the UK, as well as a pathway to citizenship. This decision was taken in response to China’s increasing control over Hong Kong, which raised concerns about the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people.
Such a decision by the UK authorities has not gone unnoticed by the public. On the one hand, many Britons supported the decision as a manifestation of the UK’s commitment to the people of Hong Kong. On the other hand, some expressed concerns about the potential increase in the number of immigrants and its consequences for the social and economic situation in the country.
In the context of the UK’s overall policy of restricting migration, the decision to grant additional rights to BN(O) status holders stands out. However, it must be borne in mind that this decision is based on historical and moral obligations to the people of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong UK visaand changes in the rights of its holders have been an important part of the debate on migration to the UK. Attitudes have divided society, but in general the desire to protect the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people finds support amongst Britons. Nevertheless, the actual number of immigrants from Hong Kong and their impact on the country will depend on many factors, including the international environment and UK domestic politics.