Residents of Hong Kong are now eligible to settle in the United Kingdom following the launch of a special visa which is open to British Nationals Overseas (BNO) and their dependents.
Those who apply for this visa will be able to apply for settlement in the UK after five years, and full citizenship a further 12 months after that. From 23rd February 2021, BNO status holders and their eligible family members who hold a biometric BNO, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or European Economic Area (EEA) passport can complete their application from home – making them the first non-EEA people able to do so.
It is estimated that up to 2.9 million people in Hong Kong are eligible to apply for a BNO visa – and therefore open up a pathway to British citizenship – and the UK government anticipates that 300,000 people will take up the offer, with 7,000 people from Hong Kong already having settled in the country since July 2020.
The processing time of each application is expected to range from a few days to a maximum of 12 weeks. The process of acquiring this UK visa is simple: those who apply are required to submit their fingerprints in person at the North Point office and must arrive in Britain 90 days after their application is approved to collect an actual biometric residence permit there.
The visa fee to stay for five years will be £250 per person - or £180 for a 30-month stay - and there is an immigration health surcharge of up to £624-a-year.
The UK has stated that the availability of these visas reflects the UK’s historic and moral commitments to Hong Kong and the people who live there, following the Chinese government’s imposition of the National Security Law in 2020. The BNO passports originated following the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997 following 99 years of British rule over the province, and are now at the forefront of 21st century relations between the UK and Hong Kong.
Boris Johnson, UK Prime Minister, said: “I am immensely proud that we have brought in this new route for Hong Kong BN(O)s to live, work and make their home in our country.
“In doing so we have honoured our profound ties of history and friendship with the people of Hong Kong, and we have stood up for freedom and autonomy – values both the UK and Hong Kong hold dear.”
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