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.

13 October 2021

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 access public funds. 

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.

Applicants and their families will also have to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which is currently set at £624 per year for adults. Therefore, the IHS would cost £1,560 if staying for two years and six months, or £3,120 if staying for five years. 

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)

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