British National Overseas ('BNO') passport holders are now bracing themselves for a shift in policy (both in the UK and China).
Tensions between the UK and China are escalating and BNO passport holders are caught in the middle. Under the current rules, a BNO passport holder can only visit the UK for a period of six months and during that period they are not permitted to work or settle in the United Kingdom. However, in response to a Chinese national security law (to be applied in Hong Kong), the UK Government has changed their policy and have now introduced a new route which will give BNO passport holders the opportunity to live and work in the UK (for up to 5 years). This visa route also leads to British citizenship.
The route is due to open on 31 January 2021.
In response to this route, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, has announced that "From January 31, China will no longer recognize the so-called BNO passport as a travel document and ID document, and reserves the right to take further actions"
What does the UK policy say?
This visa route will be open for applications from 31 January 2021.
BNO holders will be able to apply for either 30 months (and then extend for a further 30 months) or five years of residence. After five years of residence you may then be eligible for settlement (also known as Indefinite Leave to Remain). After holding settlement for 12 months, you could then apply for British citizenship.
As a BNO visa holder you can work, study and use the NHS. You can include family members such as a spouse, partner, children and other family members such as dependant parents etc. Applications can be made from within the United Kingdom or abroad (so long as you can show that you would normally be resident in Hong Kong).
If you would like to learn more about this visa route then please contact either Antonia Torr or Phong Ma.