British National Overseas: BN(O) passport holders all aboard

by Sonum Behar

Previously, such passport holders were only permitted to visit the United Kingdom for a period of 6 months.  However, under the new system which came into force on 31st January 2021 BN(O) passport holders and their close family can now apply to live and work in the UK.  Following, completion of 5 years of residency such individuals can apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain.

While the route remains open as of today, the Home Office promises to have a completely digitalised route from 23rd February 2021 allowing for an easier and more convenient process. The new digitalised application will permit individuals to scan their BN(O), HKAR or EEA passport from the comfort of their own homes.

Applicants will be reassured to know that there is no quota for this visa route and it is estimated that 5.4 million Hong Kong Residents are eligible for the scheme.

Who can apply?


  • BN(O) status holders;
  • Individuals born after 1st July 1997 who may not have the opportunity to register as children of a BN(O) status holder.

Applying for the visa:

  • Applicants will be required to prove BN(O) status. Where a BN(O) passport has been lost or expired, eligibility checks can be made using historical records held by Her Majesty’s Passport Office.
  • Applicants will need to hold a valid tuberculosis test certificate from a clinic approved by the Home Office.

Please note: Individuals do not need a renewed BN(O) passport to apply for the Hong Kong BN(O) Visa route.


There is a 5-year residency requirement for BN(O) status holders.  Time in another route i.e. skilled worker route can be used to meet the 5- year residency requirement under the route.  Please note: only time spent on routes which lead to settlement can be counted towards meeting the residency requirement such as the Youth Mobility Scheme.

Visa Fees:

  • A five-year visa will cost £250 per person. Applicants will also be able to apply for a 30-month visa which will cost £180 per person.
  • Applicants on this Visa route are expected to be self-sufficient and will need to show that they can accommodate and sustain both themselves and their dependants, for at least six months upon arrival to the UK, and must have no serious criminal convictions.

There are other immigration options available to individuals who may not satisfy the requirements for the BN(O) Visa such as:

  • Tier 4 ( Student)- not a direct route to settlement;
  • Youth Mobility Scheme-not a direct route to settlement;
  • Start Up Visa- not a direct route to settlement
  • Skilled Worker- leads to settlement;
  • Sole Representative Visa- leads to settlement;
  • Global Talent Visa – leads to settlement;
  • Innovator visa – leads to settlement.

We recommend contacting us via email on if you are interested in this visa.