British National (Overseas) Visa

The British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) Visa is a potential means of increasing your international workforce in addition to the Health and Care Visa.

6 February 2024

The British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) Visa gives applicants a generic right to work in the UK.

With a potential pool of 350,000 eligible nationals, the BN(O) route is a potential means of increasing your international workforce in addition to the Health and Care Visa. 

As this route has some differences from the Health and Care Visa or the Skilled Worker Visa, the below outlines some elements to consider if you would like to use this route as part of your workforce pipeline. 


The BN(O) Visa applies to those who were British Overseas Territories citizens by connection with Hong Kong and registered as a British national (overseas) before 1 July 1997. More information on types of British nationals can be found on the GOV.UK website


The BN(O) Visa allows those who are eligible and their family members to live, work and study in the UK but cannot usually access public funds.

Once individuals have a BNO visa, they might be able to apply for access to benefits if, for example, they:

  • do not have a place to live and cannot afford one
  • have a place to live but cannot afford essential living costs like food or heating
  • are at risk of losing your place to live or being unable to afford essential living costs
  • have a very low income, and not having access to benefits would harm your child’s wellbeing.

Length of stay 

Under this route, applicants can stay in the UK from two years and six months up to five years. Their stay can also be extended as many times as they wish, and they have the right to apply to settle in the UK or for British citizenship. 


The BN(O) Visa costs £180 for two years and six months or £250 for five years. 

As part of the application, applicants might need to go to attend a biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) appointment for £19.20.

The Immigration Health Surcharge increased from £624 to £1,035 on 6 February 2024. Applicants and their families will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS). Therefore, the IHS would cost £2,587.50 if staying for two years and six months, or £5,175 if staying for five years, for adults. The cost for children under 18 is cheaper. More information on how much it costs is available on the GOV.UK website

You may be able to pay to get a faster decision. You will be told if you can when you apply.

English language

On entry, there will be no English language requirement. However, applicants must demonstrate a commitment to learn English in the UK and require a good knowledge of the English language if they choose later to make an application for settled status (indefinite leave to remain) after five years. To work in an NHS skilled role, applicants will also have to meet the English language requirements of the relevant regulator, such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) or the General Medical Council (GMC)

Regional support

East Midlands Council have produced a promotional video and have a Hong Kong BNO Welcome Hub available online.

There is also the national Hong Kong Nursing Association UK.

Other requirements

Applicants will also need to show they have enough money to pay for housing and to support themselves and their family for six months. Further details on the BN(O) Visa are available on the GOV.UK website.  

Our International Recruitment Toolkit is an excellent resource to support employers and overseas staff. It includes some top tips and resources on topics such as pastoral care, English language testing, professional registration, OSCE preparation and more. 

If you have any questions, please contact