Start typing and hit "Enter" to search.
immigration solicitors near me

UK Visa Options for Commonwealth Citizens and British Nationals Overseas

While there is no official UK Commonwealth visa, there are a number of immigration routes available to Commonwealth citizens and British Nationals Overseas, including the:

If you are a citizen of the Commonwealth and you do not qualify for any of the above immigration routes, the UK also offers a wide range of work visas, business visas, and family visas that may be more suitable for your needs. In this article, we will outline the right of abode, the UK Ancestry visa, and the BNO visa, including the benefits, who qualifies, and the application fees payable.

Right of Abode

Having right of abode in the UK simply means that you can live and work here without needing to make an immigration application. In other words, you do not require a visa to come to the UK, and there is no time limit on the amount of time you can live here. If you are a Commonwealth citizen, depending on your circumstances, you may have the right of abode in the UK. To have the right of abode as a citizen of the Commonwealth, you must have a parent or be married to a person with the right of abode here. It is important to note that if you are part of the “Windrush generation”, there is a different way to prove your right to reside in the UK1.

If you have the right of abode in the UK as a Commonwealth citizen, you can apply for a certificate of entitlement from the Home Office, which is placed into your passport. This will give you proof that you have the right to live in the UK. You can apply for your certificate of entitlement online2, and there is a fee of £372 payable.

UK Ancestry visa

The UK Ancestry visa enables some Commonwealth citizens to live in the UK for up to 5 years, at which point they can extend their stay or apply to settle in the UK (indefinite leave to remain – ILR). If you are eligible for a UK Ancestry visa, you will be able to live, work, study, and bring family to the UK to live with you. You may be eligible for a UK Ancestry visa if you have a grandparent who was born in the UK, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man. You may also be eligible if your grandparent was born before the 31st of March 1922 in Ireland (as it is now called) or on a UK-registered ship or aircraft. To gain a UK Ancestry visa, it does matter if you or your parents were adopted or whether your parents or grandparents were not married.

To apply for a UK Ancestry visa, you must be 17 years or over, have enough funds to support yourself in the UK, and be able to and plan to work in the UK. You can apply for your UK Ancestry visa online3, and there is a fee of £531 payable.

BNO visa

The BNO visa is also a commonly used immigration route for Commonwealth citizens from Hong Kong. As a BNO visa holder, you will be able to live in the UK for up to 5 years (you also have the option to apply for a shorter duration of 2 years and 6 months). After 5 years of continuous residence in the UK, you can apply to further extend your visa or ILR. BNO visa holders have the right to live, work, and study in the UK.

To qualify for a BNO visa as a national of a Commonwealth country, you will need to show that you are a British national (overseas) or the child of a British national (overseas) born on or after 1st July 1997. In addition, your permanent home must be in Hong Kong (assuming you are applying from outside the UK). If you are applying from inside the UK, your permanent home can be in the UK, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, or Hong Kong.

Your dependant family members (i.e., your partner and children) will also be able to apply for a BNO visa at the same time as you if they qualify. The BNO visa also allows you to bring other family members to the UK, including your parent, grandparent, brother, sister, son, or daughter (18 or older), as long as they live with you and they are highly dependent on you due to illness, disability or age.

To apply for a BNO visa, you can complete the online application process. The exact process you need to complete will depend on whether you are applying outside4 or inside5 the UK. The visa application fee is £180 if applying for 30 months or £250 for 5 years. In addition, you will need to pay the healthcare surcharge, which will grant you access to the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). The healthcare surcharge is currently £624 per person per year. You will also need to show that you have enough funds to support yourself and your family in the UK. This is approximately £2,000 for a single person ranging up to £9,200 for a couple with 2 parents and 2 adult children.

References

1 GOV.UK: Undocumented Commonwealth citizens in the UK

2 GOV.UK: Applying for a certificate of entitlement

3 GOV.UK: Ancestry visa

4 GOV.UK: Applying outside the UK for BNO visa

5 GOV.UK: Applying within the UK for BNO visa

Get In Touch

Some of our Happy Client
  • immigration solicitors near me
  • immigration solicitors near me
  • immigration solicitors near me
  • immigration solicitors near me

Reiss Edwards Awards

O.L

Reiss Edwards is absolutely amazing. As a lawyer myself I can categorically say that they know their stuff, gentle, responsive, care about you and not just about the money, very professional.

I mean I can go on and on! The entire team at Reiss Edwards is amazing!

Kiran Sardar


I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this professional as there are lots of emotions always involved in each and every case.

The way they dealt with my case during COVID19 Situation is highly appreciable. I would definitely recommend Joe D. and Anna F. Anna is an amazing lady, her patience is beyond my words.

Her hard work and professionalism have no boundaries. She is the right person for all type of cases.

Thanks to Anna and Joe for all your support and guidance which helped me fulfill my dream.

I would say Reiss Edwards is lucky to have Joe D. and Anna F. Great job Reiss Edwards.

thanks once again. Anna you’re a Gem and a Star.

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was outstanding. Handling the case with constant correspondence over a lengthy, lockdown delayed 7-month application process. Her expert advice guided us successfully through some difficult times as a result of COVID-19. Some of the best service I have received for any service ever! Often replying to emails late at night, offering to send additional correspondence to the home office and going above and beyond in handling our case! Well done and thank you Reiss Edwards and thank you Anna!!".

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR application was successful 6 weeks after the submission amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. I also think the portfolio put together by the team at Reiss Edwards has played a big part in the quick turnaround of my application".

Reiss Edwards Reviews

O.L

"Andy Tieu is absolutely amazing, as a lawyer myself I can categorically say tha...

Read More

Kiran Sardar

"I found Joe very helpful and tremendous patience which is a must in this profes...

Read More

Cheyam Shaked

"Anna Foley was the lawyer helping my partner obtain an EEA EFM visa. She was ou...

Read More

Isaac .T

"Professional service. I was very impressed with the fact that my ILR applicatio...

Read More
Back to Top