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The Isle of Man BN(O) route – one year on

Gong hei fat choy! Are you a Hong Konger thinking of starting a new life overseas this year? Did you know that Isle of Man has its own BN(O) immigration route, of which many British Nationals (Overseas) and their families have already taken advantage?

Over this festive Lunar New Year season and celebrating one year on from the introduction of the Isle of Man BN(O) route, we put together answers to most frequently asked questions about this route for those eligible to consider the Isle of Man BN(O) option.

What is the Isle of Man BN(O) visa?

British Nationals (Overseas) are persons connected with Hong Kong with a special category of British nationality that allows them to visit the UK and Isle of Man freely. For longer stays, the Isle of Man BN(O) is an immigration route that allows British Nationals (Overseas) and certain eligible family members the opportunity to live, work and study in the Isle of Man and ultimately to settle here.


Does this route lead to British citizenship?

After one year with indefinite leave to remain (or permanent residence), this route can lead to full British citizenship.  

How do I qualify?

To qualify for the Isle of Man BN(O) visa you must be a British National (Overseas) under the Hong Kong (British Nationality) Ordinance Order 1986, but you do not necessarily need to have a valid BN(O) passport to be eligible to apply.

Can I bring my family members?

You may bring your partner, children and, in exceptional circumstances, other family members.

What are the requirements?

To be eligible you must be ordinarily resident in either Hong Kong, the UK, Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man on the date of application. Applications can be made from inside or outside the Isle of Man.   

If you have been living in the Isle of Man for less than a year or you are applying from outside the Isle of Man, you will need to demonstrate that you can adequately maintain and accommodate yourself and any family members for at least six months. You may rely on credible promises of future financial support from third parties including from prospective employment or from family members. There is no prescribed minimum level of funds required and we can help you to makes sense of what it means to have adequate maintenance and accommodation.

Will I need to provide a TB certificate?

In most cases screening for active pulmonary tuberculosis is required, and is available in Hong Kong or the UK.

How long is the visa valid for and how much does it cost?

Unlike other visa categories, applicants can choose to enter or remain in the Isle of Man for an initial period of either 2.5 years (with a further application for 2.5 years) or a single application granting leave to enter or remain for a period of 5 years. The costs of the visas are considerably less than most other immigration routes, and cost GBP180.00 for the 2.5-year visa or GBP250.00 for the 5-year visa.  


Can I live and work in the Isle of Man under this route?

BN(O) Status Holders and their eligible family members have the right to live, work (including employment, self-employment and voluntary work subject to very limited exceptions) and study in the Isle of Man.

What are the advantages of applying for the BN(O) in the Isle of Man and why should I choose this immigration route over others?

As a British Crown Dependency and international financial centre, the Isle of Man has much in common with Hong Kong. While the two territories are similar in size, the Isle of Man has a far smaller population and much opportunity for population growth. Hong Kong qualifications and British professional memberships are widely accepted in the Isle of Man. At the same time, the Isle of Man is a clean and safe environment allowing excellent work-life balance, high-quality affordable accommodation and excellent access to all parts of the UK within a low-tax economy.


Is there a large community of Hong Kongers in the Isle of Man already?

In the last 30 years, many Hong Kong people including those with status as a British National (Overseas) have already made the Isle of Man their home. According to the 2021 census there were 178 people living in the Isle of Man who were born in Hong Kong alone, as well as many more from mainland China and eastern Asia.


Will I have to pay NHS Surcharge?

Unlike the UK, the Isle of Man does not levy the NHS Surcharge. For a family of four applying for BN(O) Visas for five years, that will mean a considerable saving in excess of GBP10,000.00 on the costs of applying in the Isle of Man, compared with the UK.

I intend to live in the UK, should I still be applying for Isle of Man BN(O)?

If you intend to live in the UK, you should apply for the UK BN(O) Visa rather than in the Isle of Man. However, provided that you comply with the conditions of the Isle of Man BN(O) visa, you can visit the UK without restriction, including having a second home there.


Can I switch to Isle of Man BN(O)?

If you are already present in the Isle of Man on another visa with a route to settlement, like the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) route, you can switch to the Isle of Man BN(O) visa (which has less stringent criteria to be eligible for Indefinite Leave to Remain) and still have your time spent on the original route count towards your continuous residence requirement.


What about Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR)?

Absences outside of the Isle of Man and UK are permitted for up to 180 days in any 12-month period for the purposes of obtaining Indefinite Leave to Remain. There are stricter residency requirements for eventual naturalisation as a British citizen.

How long does the process take?

Processing times for applications made within the Isle of Man are generally quicker than the equivalent application in the UK.

What’s next?

Kinley Legal has a long association with Hong Kong and a proven track record of assisting Hong Kong people with all types of Isle of Man immigration applications including the Hong Kong British National (Overseas) visa for status holders and their families. If you would like to make an appointment for a call, in-person meeting or online meeting to discuss your situation please get in touch by e-mail at immigration@kinleylegal.com or complete our simple contact form, and we would be pleased to help.