New Hong Kong British Nationals (overseas) visa concessions

As of last month, the Hong Kong British Nationals (overseas) (BN(O)) route includes two new visa concessions. Details can be found in the relevant Home Office guidance.

Please disregard the rules in respect to cases where financial or residency requirements cannot be met

The legacy concession enables the Home Office to grant 12 months leave outside the rules to applicants who apply from within the UK for the BN(O) visa, but who fail to meet a) the financial requirements and/or b) the ’ordinary residence’ requirement, at the time of the application. The current amendment grants an extension to the aforementioned 12 month leave concession, and this gives applicants more time to meet the eligibility requirements ahead of their next BN(O) visa application.

This further concession does not apply in cases of individuals who have not met the suitability requirements. It must be noted that only where BN(O) status holders or the adult children of BN(O) status holders are being granted limited leave to remain, are family members also granted this permission.

A refund for the difference in the amount of Immigration Health Surcharge paid (£624 per year), is issued in cases that discretionary grants of leave are given through this route, but the applicant applied for a 30-month or five-year visa.

This grant of leave outside the rules bestows the right to work and study in the UK but gives no access to public funds. In addition, periods of leave outside the rules do not count towards the five-year qualifying period for indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Where a main applicant has passed away

The first amendment applies to family members of main applicants who passed away during the application process. The amendment extends the concession allowing such individuals to continue their application for the BN(O) visa as if their main applicant relative were still alive. Family members of a BN(O) status holder who died before an application was made will not be eligible to apply as if they were their dependents.

Applications of family members of deceased main applicants who had submitted their application before passing away, will be considered if the visa would not have been refused and their identity is verifiable. In this context, a caseworker will assess whether the family member - applicants meet the eligibility and suitability requirements of the route as if the deceased main applicant were still alive. Identity verification of the deceased main applicant is established via an already attended biometrics appointment or a passport request.

Caseworkers may request additional evidence and information:  For example, they may enquire if maintenance funds were held exclusively by the deceased main applicant at the time of applying.

As part of this route, one of the remaining family members will be appointed as the main applicant for the purpose of obtaining permission for other dependents. In most cases, this may be an adult dependent partner who is already responsible for the care of the remaining dependents. If the deceased was the sole care provider for dependents under the age of 18 or an adult dependent who is a relative, then the application will fail on grounds of not meeting the care requirements of the route.

Finally, if a BN(O) status holder passes away during the application process and their dependents subsequently make a further application under the route, their applications may be considered as if the deceased applicant were still alive.

These concessions will only affect a small number of applicants but will have a significant impact at a time when these individuals face a particularly challenging period of their lives.

Posted on 05.05.2023.

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