Am I eligible for the Hong Kong Visa?
The question ‘am I eligible for the Hong Kong visa?’ is one that UK immigration solicitors are being asked now in advance of the introduction of the UK’s new Hong Kong BNO visa route that will open to visa applicants from the 1 January 2021. In this blog we look at eligibility criteria for the new Hong Kong visa.
UK Immigration and Hong Kong visa solicitors
If you have questions about Hong Kong to UK immigration options and whether you meet the eligibility criteria for a Hong Kong visa or a dependant visa then the immigration solicitors at OTS Solicitors can help you. Call the friendly and expert immigration team at OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or contact us online. Appointments are available through video conferencing, Skype or by telephone appointment.
What is the Hong Kong visa?
The new Hong Kong visa is for British National (Overseas) citizens who are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong and their dependant family members. Under new government rules if you hold BN (O) status you (and your dependants) will be able to apply for a Hong Kong visa (or a dependant visa) to enable you to come to the UK. The Hong Kong visa will authorise you to live, work and study in the UK during the period of your visa.
Immigration solicitors say that importantly the new Hong Kong visa will enable you to apply to settle in the UK and apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain and British citizenship once you meet the eligibility criteria for either ILR or for British Citizenship.
Why do I need a Hong Kong visa?
You may think that as you have BN (O) status that you don’t need a specialist visa to travel to the UK but you do need a Hong Kong visa, or other long term visa, if you plan to live and work in the UK.
Your status as a BN (O) citizen with a BNO passport enables you to visit the UK for up to six months without needing to apply for a UK visa. However, a longer visit or permanent move to the UK requires a visa. The purpose of the new Hong Kong visa is to make it easier for those with BN (O) status, and their dependants, to relocate to the UK because of the UK government’s concerns about the introduction of the new national security law in Hong Kong.
UK immigration solicitors say that if you meet the eligibility criteria for the Hong Kong visa then this is likely to be your best route to settlement in the UK, though it is best to check and get legal advice as, for example, you may meet the Investor Visa criteria and be able to secure accelerated settlement in the UK.
Why should I apply for the new Hong Kong visa?
If you are planning to settle in the UK from Hong Kong there are some aspects of the new Hong Kong visa that make it particularly attractive to visa applicants, such as:
- There is no requirement to have a job offer in place or a requirement to get a job that pays a minimum salary threshold
- You do not have to have a minimum amount of money to invest in the UK or in a new business
- You do not need an employer or a family member to sponsor your move to the UK
- There is no limit or cap on the number of Hong Kong visas available to issue
- You can apply for a Hong Kong visa from overseas or from within the UK
- You can bring dependant family members with you if they meet the eligibility criteria for a dependant visa
- You can apply to settle in the UK if you enter the UK on a Hong Kong visa and you meet the residence requirement and the other eligibility criteria for settlement in the UK.
Am I eligible for a Hong Kong visa?
You may meet the eligibility criteria for a Hong Kong visa if:
- You hold BN (O) status
- You are ordinarily resident in Hong Kong
- You can prove your identity – you don’t need a BN (O) passport to prove your identity or to be eligible to apply for a Hong Kong visa
- You meet the good character test that is applicable to all visa applicants
- You can support yourself whilst in the UK and provide your own accommodation
- You secure a TB test from an authorised clinic
- You can pay the Hong Kong Home Office visa application fee and the Immigration health surcharge.
How long does the Hong Kong visa last for?
If you apply for a Hong Kong visa you have the choice of applying for:
- A thirty month visa
- A five year visa.
If you apply for the thirty month visa you can apply to extend your Hong Kong visa for another thirty months provided that you meet all the relevant eligibility criteria at the time of your extension application. You may question why you would only want a thirty month visa but when you apply for a Hong Kong visa you have to pay your Immigration health surcharge for the life of your visa. Therefore, if you apply for the thirty month visa there is less money for you to find upfront.
When can I settle in the UK on a Hong Kong visa?
After you have lived in the UK for five years then you can apply to the Home Office for Indefinite Leave to Remain. To successfully apply for ILR you have to be able to meet the eligibility criteria for Indefinite Leave to Remain including the residence requirement. That is why it is best to take legal advice on your planned Indefinite Leave to Remain application when you arrive in the UK on your Hong Kong visa to ensure that you understand and meet the ILR eligibility criteria.
Once you have Indefinite Leave to Remain status you will be free of UK Immigration control and can live, work and study in the UK indefinitely. After you have held Indefinite Leave to Remain status for twelve months you can apply to become a British citizen provided that you meet the eligibility criteria.
Can I come to the UK now and apply for a Hong Kong visa whilst in the UK?
The government has said that anyone with BN (O) status can come to the UK before the 1 January 2021. With less than six months to go before the 1 January 2021, you will not need a visa to come to the UK and you should be able to apply for your Hong Kong visa within your six months leave, provided that you have all the necessary paperwork to make your Hong Kong visa application. If you are in any doubt about the paperwork and documents you will need it is best to take legal advice on your Hong Kong visa application now.
Hong Kong visa and UK Immigration solicitors
Our UK immigration solicitors are experts in immigration law. Our friendly and approachable specialist Hong Kong visa solicitors can assess your immigration and visa options if you hold BN (O) status. For the best advice on your Hong Kong to UK immigration options call OTS Solicitors on 0203 959 9123 or complete our online enquiry form. Appointments are available through video conference, Skype or by telephone appointment.