British National Overseas [BNO] visas

Logo - Hong Kong Hub [colourful image of a cityscape]

What is a BNO visa?

A British National Overseas visa, known as BNO visa, enables the holder to live, work and study in the UK. You can choose to stay for either 2 years and 6 months or 5 years initially, and later apply to settle in the UK permanently, including applying for British citizenship, if you wish to.

For more info about the BNO visa, including eligibility and process, please check the BNO leaflet. For queries regarding your visa, contact UK Visa and Immigration contact centre on 0300 790 6268.

How can I apply for a BNO visa?

If you're from Hong Kong and hold BNO status, you can apply for a BNO visa from the UK, if you haven’t already.

If you're currently in the UK on a different UK visa, you can apply to switch to a BNO visa, if you meet the criteria.

Your family members can also apply for a BNO visa if they’re eligible, but they must usually apply at the same time as you.

Changes to the requirements of the BNO visa

From 6 October, it is no longer required that the dependent partner or a child of the BNO Status Holder form part of the same household on the date of application. The dependent partner or child must instead only show that they and the BNO Status Holder intend to live together throughout their stay in the UK. There is no time limit on when a partner must follow the BNO Status Holder and make an application as a dependent partner on the route.

How is your BNO application considered?

Home Office guidance for caseworkers

What rights do I have with a BNO visa?

A BNO visa allows the holder to work, study, rent a property and access the NHS.

A BNO visa has a no recourse to public funds [NRPF] condition attached to it, which means that a visa holder cannot access benefits or any other support classed as public funds, such as Child Benefit, Universal Credit or Personal Independent Payment [PIP].

However, if the visa holder is struggling to cover the costs of housing and living [if they become destitute or are at ‘imminent risk of destitution’], they can get the NRPF condition removed from their leave by applying for a change of conditions of leave. Such an application requires access to OISC-regulated legal advice and is not covered by a free legal aid. For fee support with the application in Yorkshire and Humber, you can contact local Citizen Advice offices or Law Centres.

While the change of condition application is pending, a BNO visa holder can receive support with housing and living costs from their local authority [council]. Please contact Ewa at Migration Yorkshire for more details on who to contact in your area.

Free childcare A child of a BNO visa holder is entitled to 15 hours per week of free childcare only. This applies to children who are age 3 to 4 years old only and is accessible from the term after the child’s 3rd birthday [September, January or April]. A local childcare provider or local council can be contacted for more information. While some parents can access 30 hour free childcare for their children, a NRPF condition prevents BNO visa holders from applying for additional hours.

Understanding rights of Hong Kong BNO visa holders

Frequently asked questions for employers and landlords, about the rights of Hong Kong BNO visa holders

Refund of NHS health surcharge

BNO visa holders working in health and social care might be eligible to apply for a refund of their and their family members’ NHS health surcharge. More info on the eligibility and process of applying for reimbursement of the NHS surcharge is available on the government’s website.

See also

In-depth briefing on the Hong Kong British National [Overseas] visa - context, conditions and requirements


Page last updated: 11/12/2021 15:35:43

Back to topPrint Icon Print this page

Contact us

Ewa Jamróz, Lead for the Hong Kong welcome programme:

Phone: 0113 378 9017

Phone: 0113 378 8188


Find an English class

A great way to find local classes and providers in Yorkshire and Humber!