As discussed extensively in our previous blogs, the BN(O) visa category which will allow British National (Overseas) citizens and their dependants to obtain a UK visa with an eventual route to citizenship. This category will fully open from January 2021. Some who are eligible to apply however may be unable or unwilling to wait until the scheme comes into effect and may wish to travel to the UK as soon as possible. For those that find themselves in this situation, there may be an opportunity to migrate to the UK this year, ahead of the official introduction of the BN(O) category.

Whilst the BN(O) visa does not come into force until 2021, the UK Border Force have “in exceptional circumstances” been given the power to consider granting BN(O) holders leave outside the rules. This means BN(O) citizens and their dependants could potentially be granted leave for a period of 6 months at the UK border if they otherwise do not satisfy any eligibility criteria for any other visa category.

It must be emphasized that a BN(O) citizen travelling to the UK will not be automatically granted leave simply by virtue of being a BN(O) citizen. Border Force officers have the right to refuse individuals entry to the UK where there is ‘good reason’ to do so. The phrase ‘good reason’ is very broad and may mean citizens could have their requests rejected for a number of reasons.

Should BN(O) citizens wish to travel to the UK this year and obtain leave outside the rules, there are a number of criteria that they will need to satisfy, to increase the likelihood that leave will be granted to them. Meeting this criteria does not guarantee a person will be granted leave outside the rules. Conversely, if an individual doesn’t meet certain criteria, it doesn’t necessarily mean they will not qualify for leave outside the rules. Each person’s circumstances differ and certain questions may need to be addressed to give that person the best chance of being granted leave.

Should you be considering migrating to the UK under the BN(O) visa category and wish to enquire as to your ability to apply ahead of the 2021 start date, please contact us.

Please note that this blog is provided for general information only. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content of this blog.

Edwin Coe LLP is a Limited Liability Partnership, registered in England & Wales (No.OC326366). The Firm is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. A list of members of the LLP is available for inspection at our registered office address: 2 Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn, London, WC2A 3TH. “Partner” denotes a member of the LLP or an employee or consultant with the equivalent standing.

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