A new immigration route opened on 31 January 2021, providing British National (Overseas) (BN(O)) status holders and their eligible family members with the opportunity to come to the UK to live, study and work, on a pathway to citizenship. This new route reflects the UK’s historic and moral commitment to those people of Hong Kong who chose to retain their ties to the UK by taking up BN(O) status at the point of Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997.
Welcome to Wales Guide
'The Welcome to Wales Guide' is now under review.
You will find a range of useful information, with links that go into the different topics in more depth. We have included key information on housing, health, education, employment and English for speakers of other languages (ESOL). There is also useful information on living in Wales, keeping safe, where to find immigration advice and how to participate in democracy and decision making.
The Hong Kong BN(O) Scheme Project Coordinator at the WSMP will work with partners to develop a Welcome Hub and other initiatives in support of the scheme, to ensure the appropriate services and support are in place to welcome BN(O) visa-holders to Wales.
If you have thoughts on what should be on the Welcome Hub, or information about relevant support and resources, please contact the Project Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you work in a school, for a council, local charity or have come across people from Hong Kong in need of support in any other context, please contact email@example.com and let us know where you are based, how many families you are working with and what sort of resettlement advice people need.
If you are a visa-holder and need advice or support or have any questions, please contact the Project Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org. Depending on your issue, we can put you in touch with the organisations and individuals who can provide support.
In response to the needs of recent arrivals, the UK government has published a guide to assist Welcome: a guide for Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa holders in the UK.
The WSMP HKBN(O) Coordinator will be working with Welsh Government and other partners to develop a Welcome Hub specific to Wales. If you have thoughts on what should be on the Welcome Hub, or information about relevant support and resources, please do let us know.
Learning and Improving English skills
It has been confirmed that BN(O) passport holders who arrive in Cardiff, Newport, Swansea, or Wrexham will be able to access the REACH+ ESOL Assessment Hubs, providing language assessments and referrals to ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) courses in those areas. Elsewhere in Wales, ESOL is also widely available in all colleges, and courses, including online courses, are also delivered in the community by Adult Learning Wales. Please contact the WSMP ESOL Coordinator for further details (email@example.com), including details of online courses to improve your English. Further details on ESOL be found on our website.
Education and courses
The Open University offers a number of free courses that can be accessed online. Courses cover a wide range of subjects, from English skills for life and supporting children’s mental health and well-being, to the importance of interpersonal skills and planning a better future. There’s even a short course on Discovering Wales and Welsh. Delivered in English, these courses are also a good way of improving your language skills.
Housing Rights gives recent arrivals information about rights when looking for a home, based on immigration status. It includes information about the legal rights of tenants and how to ensure you are treated fairly when renting privately.
In May 2021, the Secretary of State for the UK Government issued a letter to landlord and letting agent representative organisations that provides further information regarding the legal status of Hong Kong BNO status holders, which may help when renting a property.
Careers Wales provides free tailored information, advice and guidance to help individuals to make decisions on learning, training and work. It can help you identify or the staff can transferable skills and advise on employment opportunities in your area. To arrange an appointment, call 0800 028 48 44.
Your local authority may also have employment support teams who can help you. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to ask about what is available where you live.
To work in the UK, you will need a National Insurance number. You can start work without a National Insurance number if you can prove you have the right to work in the UK. You may find that employers expect you to provide a NI number, but it can take a number of weeks to come through. More details can be found here.
UK ENIC is the UK National Information Centre for the recognition and evaluation of international qualifications and skills. It can help with transferring your qualifications and comparing them with UK equivalents.
You do not need proof of address or immigration status to register with a GP (a doctor or 'general practitioner') who is usually the first contact if you have a health problem. Find your local GP or other medical services here.
COVID-19 vaccinations are available for everyone over 12 years old in Wales. Find out how to book your vaccination here.
Resources and Reading
Building a New Life in Wales:
Hong Kong BN(O) Visa Holders Welcome Survey Research Report
Dechrau Bywyd Newydd yng Nghymru:
Adroddiad Ymchwil Arolwg Croeso i Ddeiliaid Fisa Gwladolion Prydeinig Hong Kong
香港英國國民(海外) [BN(O)] 簽證持有者歡迎調查研究報告
With thanks to Hongkongers in Britain (HKB) * for sharing these links.
HKB Survey report on work and employment, containing the full report, questionnaire, presentation, infographic and press conference recording held on 12 October 2021.
“Coming for hope”: HKB Policy Study on Hong Kong British National (Overseas) Holders Intending to come to the UK (Dec 2020), with details on demographics (age groups, qualifications, professions, income), who will come/when, their concerns, hopes, preparedness and vulnerabilities.
Joint Recommendations: Supporting Hongkongers to settle in the UK (Jan 2021), on safety and security, immigration, university, schools, housing, employment, mental health support, information hub, translation and interpretation.
Joint Briefing on Housing Situation for Hong Kong BN(O)s arriving in the UK (Apr 2021) including most popular accommodation options and driving factors for new arrivals searching accommodation, immediate issues around finding accommodation and policy recommendations.
HKB Survey Report on Preferred Destinations of Hong Kong BN(O)s in the UK (June 2021), by local councils, whether new arrivals plan to move after first six months and where to, how many children need school places and where.
Evidence session on British Nationals (Overseas) visa arrangements for Hong Kong (July 2021), House of Commons Home Affairs Committee.