Hong Kong is a significant historic issue for the UK. As the UK influence came to the end, the country was plagued with civil unrest and insecurity. The significance of Hong Kong as the world’s financial capital has now diminished and the UK introduced a new immigration route for Hong Kong nationals to the UK in 2021.
British National (Overseas) visa
British National (Overseas) visa also known as a BNO visa was introduced on the 31st January 2021.
This UK immigration route is open to Hong Kong nationals or residents who are Overseas British nationals.
It is well known that historically Overseas British Nationals were not allowed to automatically enter and live in the UK. This changed with the introduction of the British National (Overseas) visa for UK visa applicants based in Hong Kong.
This visa category is best compared to the UK Ancestry visa, which allows the grandchildren of British nationals based in the Commonwealth to come, live and work in the UK.
You can only apply for the BNO visa from Hong Kong before you are allowed to enter the UK. Initially, the visa lasts for 2 years and 6 months. You will need to renew your visa before the expiry date. The visa, once renewed after the initial period of residence, allows you to settle permanently in the UK. You may become eligible to apply for indefinite leave to remain after 5 years of continuous residence in the UK.
What are the UK Visa Options for Mainland Chinese Nationals?
With the Tier 1 Investor visa now abolished. It is not that clear what is the best UK visa for the UK visa applicants originating from Mainland China who are not Overseas British Nationals based in Hong Kong.
Quite clearly, the act of abolishing the UK Tier 1 Investor visa left significant gaps in the UK immigration policy, which are not easy to bridge.
There were significant changes made to a number of British visa categories. Namely, the more popular business immigration categories were altered to not allow settlement in the UK.
Settlement means to acquire the right to remain permanently and indefinitely in the UK.
Therefore, it is more difficult for Chinese visa applicants to find the right UK immigration category, especially if they are looking to remain long-term in the UK.
Here are some of the possible reasons UK immigration categories that may be relevant to some of the applicants:
- Tier 1 Innovator visa;
- Skilled worker visa;
- Fiancée, relationship with or spouse of a British citizen.
Tier 1 Innovator visa needs to be considered if you are looking to establish a new business, which is scalable in the UK. A number of important requirements are attached in order to qualify under the requirements for this UK visa category. More importantly, it must be noted that your command of the English language should be no less than B2 of CEFR, which may not be attained as easily.
Skilled worker visa remains a viable option, if you find a UK based employer who has the appropriate sponsor licence to sponsor your UK Skilled worker visa application.
British family visa (fiancée, relationship with or spouse of a British (settled, EU/EEA/Swiss national) citizen) is only appropriate if the relationship is sustainable and enduring. There is a dedicated action force charged with dismantling sham marriages in the UK. Therefore, this UK visa should not be abused and used only when the relationship circumstances are genuine.
Even if the relationship circumstances are genuine, not all British (settled, EU/EEA/Swiss national) citizens are capable of meeting the strict financial criteria in order to sponsor the UK visa for their fiancée, partner or spouse to join them in the UK.
You may still be eligible to apply for:
- Tier 1 Start-up visa;
- Student visa;
- Graduate visa;
- Intra-company transfer visa;
- Global Business Mobility – UK Expansion visa.
However, these UK visa categories do not allow you to settle in the UK. You are expected to leave once your visa expires.
You want to discuss your requirements now, but you are not sure where to start or how to find the right UK immigration adviser for you and your family, schedule a phone call with me!
Saule Voluckyte, M.A.E.S, LL.B, FAIA
I have been working exclusively with UHNWI in Mayfair, London since January 2008. I built specialist knowledge and expertise required to serve ultra high net worth individuals investing, operating and relocating to the UK or Switzerland.
Within the industry, I am the single adviser who is able to traverse the different areas of expertise and bring a comprehensive approach across: global structuring, UK immigration, international taxation and FOREX to develop their global wealth strategy, while they build, grow and expand their wealth worldwide.
Previous experience as one of the senior advisors for the government, made me a go-to person when delicate and uncomfortable scenarios involving heads of state need to be handled with care and preserve privacy.