UK: British Nationals (Overseas) Route Opened

Last Updated on February 23, 2023

Key Points

  • A BN(O) route has opened permitting BN(O) status holders to work, live and study in the UK
  • Applicants can apply through the new digital application system starting on February 23, 2021
  • BN(O) status holders can apply for a 2.5-year or five-year visa
  • BN(O) applicants may seek permanent residency if they have lived in the UK for five years or more
  • BN(O) status holders may sponsor dependents, including spouses, civil partners and children
  • All family members must apply at the same time
  • BN(O) status holders who have a BN(O) passport issued between 1987-1997 with a 10-year validity do not need to reapply
  • Application fees apply for primary applicants and dependents
  • Applicants must show proof of sufficient funds to live in the UK


The BN(O) route allows status holders to work, study and live in the UK with the option to apply for permanent residency after they have been UK residents for five years.

What are the Changes?

The BN(O) route is now open for applications, but applicants should wait until February 23, 2021 to apply, which is when an app will launch that allows applications to be submitted and processed electronically.

Who is Affected?

The new route applies to British Nationals Overseas (BN(O)) status holders.

The BN(O) route allows current status holders to study, work, and live in the UK. They can apply for a visa with a validity of either 2.5 years or five years and apply for permanent residency if they have lived in the UK for at least five years.

BN(O) status holders can also sponsor a spouse or civil partner along with their children or their partner’s children under age 18. All family members are required to apply together even if they travel to the UK at different times. Applicants should note that no additional family members can be added once the primary applicant receives a visa.

Individuals who applied for BN(O) status between 1987 and 1997 and received a BN(O) passport do not need to apply for a new BN(O) passport if their original passport has a 10-year validity. All other BN(O) and Hong Kong (SAR) passport holders must apply for a new visa using the UK Immigration ID app.

What Should Employers and Applicants Know?

Starting on February 23, 2021, applicants can apply for BN(O) status through the “UK Immigration: ID check” app rather than visiting an application center in person. They can verify their identity and upload all required documentation through the app. Applicants will be issued their visas electronically.

All applicants must pay a visa fee and immigration health surcharge. The fee for a 2.5-year visa is GBP 1,740 for primary applicants and GBP 1,355 for each dependent. For a five-year visa, the fee is GBP 3,370 for primary applicants and GBP 2,500 for every dependent.

Additionally, applicants must show that they have sufficient finances to live in the UK, which can be demonstrated through proof of third-party support or cash savings. Pending job offers in the UK do not qualify.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.