Can You Apply for a BNO Visa Inside The UK?
In recent articles, we have outlined the eligibility criteria for the new BNO visa for Hong Kong nationals wishing to come to the UK. It now appears that there is substantial interest in the visa, and immigration lawyers are fielding a large number of enquiries from those interested in making the move. According to the Guardian, immigration firms have seen a rush of enquiries from Hong Kong nationals despite fears that their application may be monitored by the Chinese authorities. Indeed, it is now expected that around 300,000 may apply for the new visa in the coming months. In this article, we will explain whether it is possible to apply for the new BNO visa as a Hong Kong national from inside the UK.
Can I Apply For A BNO Visa As A Hong Kong National From Within The UK?
Yes, the Home Office is permitting applications for the BNO visa from Hong Kong or the UK. The rules state in order to apply from within the UK, your permanent home must be either in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or Hong Kong. If you are already in the UK on a different visa type, you will be allowed to switch to the new visa, assuming you are eligible (switching means that you can apply for a visa without needing to leave the UK to do so).
Can I Apply For A BNO Visa In The UK If My UK Visa Has Expired?
Yes, the Home Office is allowing some flexibility for those whose leave has expired or is about to expire, including visitor visa holders whose six-month stay has ended. This may happen for several reasons; e.g. it may be that you left Hong Kong to come to the UK and have been waiting for the new scheme to open to applications. The exception states that if your UK visa expired or your six-month visit visa ended between 1st July 2020 and 31st January 2021, then you will have until 31st March 2021 to apply for a BNO visa from within the UK.
How Do I Apply From Within The UK For A BNO Visa?
The application process for the BNO visa is completed online, whether you are inside the UK or in Hong Kong. You will also need to book an appointment with your nearest UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to have your identity documents checked and scanned. During your appointment with UKVCAS, they will also scan your biometric information (fingerprints and photo). It may also be possible to prove your identity by using the Home Office’s mobile phone app.
Does It Cost More To Apply For A BNO Visa From Within The UK?
The BNO visa application fee is the same, whether applying in the UK or in Hong Kong. The current charge for each applicant is £180 if applying for two years and six months, and £250 if applying for five years. £19.20 will also need to be paid to have your biometric information processed.
For adults over 18
- £1,560 if applying for two years and six months
- £3,120 if applying for five years
For children under 18:
- £1,175 if applying for two years and six months
- £2,350 if applying staying for five years
Will I Still Need To Provide Proof Of Support Funds If Already In The UK?
The immigration rules state that BNO visa applicants must have sufficient financial resources to support themselves and their family members for at least six months. This may be in the form of:
- income and savings as well as your family member’s
- money you will earn in your current job in the UK
- money you will earn if you’re transferring to a job in the UK with your current employer
- an offer of help from family or friends
The evidence required to prove that you have sufficient financial resources may include:
- bank statements that show savings
- evidence of regular income that will continue whilst in the UK, such as salary, investment or pension payments
- investment details
- receipt of educational grants from overseas
- an offer of employment in the UK
- income of a partner, spouse or other family member to which you have access, for example, parental funding or a spouse’s salary earned through lawful working in the UK
- an offer of accommodation from family or friends
You will not need to prove your financial resources, however, however, if you have already been living in the UK for one year or more.
How Long Will It Take To Receive A Decision On My BNO Visa Application From Within The UK?
The Home Office is aiming to process most applications for the BNO visa within 12 weeks, after you have provided your application, documents, and proved your identity. This may take longer due to COVID-19 or if further information is required to support your application. You may also be asked to attend a routine interview. Once you have submitted your application, you can remain in the UK while awaiting your decision, but you will not be able to travel outside of the UK until you know the outcome. If you are concerned that your visa application has been delayed or you have any other concerns, it is advisable to speak to an immigration Solicitor in the UK who will be able to acquire the confirmation and provide the reassurance you need.
If you are a Hong Kong national already in the UK, you will be able to apply for a BNO visa without needing to leave the country; the process, costs, and timescales are broadly the same. Be assured that an immigration Lawyer in the UK understands the pressure and stress which Hong Kong nationals are and have been under, and they will work to assist you sensitive and confidential manner.