UK government launches digital process for HK visas

23/02/21

From Tuesday 23 February, applicants for the Hong Kong BN(O) visa with certain biometric passports will be able to apply from a smartphone app to scan their passport.

Applications can be made within the UK or overseas and will enable BN(O), HKSAR or EEA biometric passport holders to submit their biometrics and validate their identity using the app. The BN(O), HKSAR document holders will be the first non-EEA citizens to be able to use this system.

The launch of the app comes after the UK government delivered on its commitment to open a new visa for Hong Kong BN(O) status holders with the BN(O) visa, which launched on 31 January.

The BN(O) visa is already a success, with thousands of BN(O) status holders and their family members already applying to live, work and study in the UK under this visa.

The commitment was made following the Chinese government’s imposition of the national security law in Hong Kong last year, in breach of its commitments under international law.

Future Borders and Immigration Minister Kevin Foster said:

I am pleased we have not only managed to launch this new route, enabling those with BN(O) status and their households to settle in the UK, but have now enhanced it with this new wholly digital application process.

This process marks a major step forward in our move to digitise the UK’s Immigration system, with it allowing the first group of non-EEA nationals to complete the process of applying for a visa from home.

In instances where the chip checker is unable to read a passport, applicants are being urged to try another passport if they hold one.

Those who are unable to scan their passport chip will need to finalise their application through attending an appointment at a Visa Application Centre.

The UK committed to this visa following the imposition of the national security law imposed by the Chinese government in June 2020, in a clear breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The 1984 declaration is a legally binding treaty which commits to ensure the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and maintain Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.

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