New uncertainties for BN(O) visa applicants

The British government is mulling changes to its British National (Overseas) visa, which will require BNO holders to show “intent” to live together with their partners in the country.

Under the pathway, an estimated 2.9 million BNO status holders and 2.3 million dependents are eligible to live, work and study in Britain. After five years, they will be able to apply for settlement and, after a further year, citizenship.

The British government intended to amend the immigration rules to allow BNO holders and his or her non-BNO partners to apply for visas separately.

Before the change, the BNO holder must apply a visa together with the partner.

After the amendment, partners can make an application after the BNO holder gets the visa.  However, they must demonstrate “intent to live together in the UK”.

The amendment is expected to take effect on October 6.

The arrangement could affect “migratory families”, meaning those with a parent staying to work in Hong Kong, and another moving to UK first.

In some cases, both parents stay in Hong Kong while children heads to the UK, where they stay in boarding schools, with foster families or relatives.

Emigration consultants said it could be problematic if families cannot prove they are living together in the UK. It poses uncertainties to whether they will be able to obtain the right of abode after 5 years.

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