Updated: Feb 1, 2021
A Couple of weeks ago, our Prime Minister, Boris John and our Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab made a bold announcement, in respect of the pathway the UK will introduce for BN(O) status holders to live and work in the UK.
Today, the Home Office provided more details on how the scheme will operate. At first glance of things, it appears to say what it does on the tin, but in reality, is that what the potential 3 million BN(O) holders and their family members envisaged for the scheme to present itself in this manner. Will the fact finer details (see below) prevent BN(O) holder to apply?
BN(O) citizens and BN(O) or non-BN(O) immediate family dependants (i.e. spouse or partner or children under the age of 18).
Other dependant relatives (such as grandparents or parents) may also apply as part of the principal applicant's BN(O) family unit provided that these relatives are themselves, BN(O) status holders.
Children over 18 in the same family unit provided they continue to be dependent on the BN(O) citizen. These are aimed at children born after 1 July 1997.
What's the Eligibility Criteria
Be an ordinary resident of #Hong_Kong (including those who may otherwise have a visa and living in the UK)
able to maintain and accommodate themselves (and each family member) for at least six months
demonstrate a commitment to learning English in the UK where appropriate and in particular, exercise a degree of proficiency upon an application for settled status in the UK
Screen for Tuberculosis at an approved Home Office clinic
Good character requirement and subject to requirements under the general grounds of refusal within the immigration rules
Initial Application Fees - To be determined by the Home Office in the Autum
Settlement Fees (after five years) - an incremental increase from the current fees of £2,389 plus 19.20 biometric fees (for each applicant)
Immigration Health Surcharge - £624 from 1 October 2020 per year (payable at once for the duration of the visa period) (for each applicant
The above Government fees are based on current fees set out against the fee order, an increase of the fees are likely from year to year.
Conditions and Entitlement of Stay
leave to remain for 30 months renewable for a further 30 months OR 60 months at the outset (difference in the fee)
option to apply for settlement after five years
opportunity to apply for citizenship after 12 months of settled status
no recourse to public funds
right to work in the UK (employed or self-employed)
access to education
access to NHS (subject to Immigration Health Surcharge)
When and Where Can You Apply
The scheme will be open to those that are eligible to do so from January 2021 (exact date have yet to be determined).
Exceptionally, individuals may qualify to apply for this sooner at the Border where immigration officers may grant Leave Outside the Rules (LOTR) for six months to those BN(O) citizens and their dependants. Do note that LOTRs are given on an exceptional basis. Border Officer may refuse any individual's entry to the UK where there is a good reason to do so, or that such individuals could have applied for another route for admission to the UK.
Applicants can apply for this visa from Hong Kong, UK or anywhere else in the world where there is a British Visa Application Center.
How to Apply
The Home Office will be designing an electronic portal (very similar to the current portals for EEA nationals applying for settled status) to allow the submission of applications and documents. Details of this will be updated in due course.
Full details of the scheme (which is likely to be transcribed into the immigration rules) will be introduced in the autumn. Hopefully, by then, we can see what has been laid down by Law.
By then, we will also hopefully gain further details as to how the Home Office considers one to comply with the "6 months" maintenance. Also, we will probably see the fees the Home Office will set for the initial application which BN(O) holders will need to levy to gain entry to the UK (apart from the Immigration Health Surcharge).
Will the Home Office adopt the £18,600 as the maintenance benchmark (which prevented so many families from reuniting) similar to the Appendix FM (Family Route) or will the Home Office think of something else.
Will the Home Office levy fees of £1,500+ per applicant for their initial entry, similar to those applying for related visas to the UK?
There are still many uncertainties around these announcements, and Hong Kong residents may feel that route may not be accessible to all as it appeared when it was first announced.
Time will tell as we gain further updates on this extraordinary route, and we will endeavour to continue to provide these important updates.
Shores & Legal are experienced and expert immigration partners for your business and personal immigration requirements. If you wish to discuss your UK immigration requirements, contact us at +44 (0) 207 097 6778 or firstname.lastname@example.org.