Being an ‘astronaut’ will be difficult
The UK government does not want Hong Kongers to live as ‘astronauts’ on the BNO visa. The latest details on the visa process encourage family groups to move, live and stay together.
Updating the BNO visa guidance on 23 December, the UK government clarified the application process, which opens on 31 January.
Families must apply together, it says. A main applicant will receive a unique reference number which all the others will quote on their individual applications. The guidance is clear that “If your family members do not apply with you they will not be able to apply for the Hong Kong BNO visa to join you later.”
It also warns that if members of a family travel to the UK at different times, they may not qualify to settle in the UK at the same time and may have to make further applications to stay. i.e. If a parent moves to the UK and children follow three months later, after 5 years the parent will be able to settle, but the children’s BNO visa will have expired three months before they have the right to settle.
While the process does give BNO visa holders a generous amount of time out of the country – they can spend 180 days outside the UK in any 12 month period – the UK government clearly wants families to remain as groups.
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