The title British National Overseas is an eminently appropriate abbreviation that’s closely related to the former British colony of Hong Kong. While this status is no longer valid in Mainland China, you can come to the UK and live with your family members as a British national. In order to establish a permanent residence in the UK, however, you must apply for settlement in the UK. Below we discuss some of the main rules for BN(O) citizens.
BN(O) passports are no longer valid in Mainland China
On 31 January 2021, British National Overseas passports will no longer be accepted for immigration clearance in Hong Kong or for identification in mainland China. From that date, only Hong Kong passports or permanent identity cards will be accepted as proof of residency. The move follows heightened tensions between the United Kingdom and China. Meanwhile, the U.K. government has begun accepting applications for special BNO visas late Sunday.
In response to the recent change, Britain has introduced a special visa for BNO passport holders, who could number up to three million. This move follows Beijing’s imposing of its national security law in Hong Kong. Beijing’s attempts to turn Hong Kong residents into second-class British citizens have changed the original understanding of BNO between the two countries. Those who hold a BNO passport can work, study, and live in the U.K., and will have the opportunity to apply for citizenship after five years of residence in the U.K.
BN(O) status does not include the right to abode in the UK
In the current immigration system, BNOs have no automatic right to abode in the UK. They are still subject to immigration controls, and are subject to citizenship and residency checks just like other non-EEA nationals. Furthermore, they are not considered British citizens under EU law, and as such are not eligible to use the right of free movement. Furthermore, their passports never have the word “European Union” on them. However, with recent changes, it appears that BNOs may finally have a chance to regain their right to abode in the UK.
BNOs are Commonwealth citizens, not British citizens. Therefore, they must undergo immigration control when entering the UK. The new security law will not allow them to abode in the UK automatically, despite the fact that their passports are recognized by the British government. The British government has taken action because the new law would undermine the legal obligations to BN(O)s. It has been confirmed that the decision applies to all BNOs, not just those who hold a BNO passport. The Home Office will provide more information about the eligibility requirements, as soon as the UK government deems it necessary.
BN(O) status holders can come to the UK with their close family members
A BNO visa enables British nationals living overseas to settle in the UK and live with their immediate family. They are allowed to work, study and access state benefits while in the country. They are also entitled to apply for British citizenship after five years. In order to qualify, applicants must have lived in the UK for at least two years on a BN(O) visa. Applicants who have already applied for the visa must submit the necessary documents and pass the English language test.
For an application to be successful, a BN(O) citizen must be a resident of Hong Kong, the U.K., the Channel Islands, or Isle of Man, possess a BN(O) passport and have a family member or partner who is 18 years or older. In exceptional cases, the Home Office may grant a BN(O) visa to the dependents of a BN(O) citizen. The dependents must live in the same household as the BN(O) citizen.
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BN(O) status holders can apply for settlement in the UK
Those who hold a British national overseas (BN(O)) status can apply for settlement in the UK if they meet certain eligibility requirements. If they entered the UK before the 19 July 2021 cut-off date, they cannot benefit from the period of leave granted under a broader concession called Leave Outside the Rules, which operated from 15 July 2020 to 19 January 2021. Absences within this five-year period will be taken into account under the current continuous residence rules.
BNOs can work, study, and live in the UK. They may apply for a BNO visa if they hold a Hong Kong passport. These citizens may also apply for a permanent residence visa if they meet certain criteria. In addition, they are entitled to consular assistance from most British diplomatic missions. However, because the UK government has not granted them right of abode status, they must also comply with UK visa requirements.