Last year, the UK government made changes to its visa rules to allow millions of Hong Kong residents who hold a British National Overseas (BNO) passport to live in the UK for five years; they can then apply for “settled status” and citizenship.
The government has announced the Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas) Integration Programme to help Hong Kong families and individuals “settle successfully into life in the UK”. The bulk of the £43m funding will be spent by local government on English language support and housing costs. It will also fund 12 ‘Welcome Hubs’, which will be set up across the country to help Hong Kong residents access places at state primary and secondary schools, as well as housing and work.
Under the programme, schools will receive dedicated Hong Kong educational resources to teach students about historic Hong Kong-British connections.
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said:
“I want to extend a warm welcome to Hong Kongers arriving in the UK and reaffirm that this government is doing everything in its power to ensure your success and happiness here.
“This programme will ensure British National (Overseas) status holders and their families have the very best start as soon as they arrive, and support to help them find a home, schools for their children, opportunity and prosperity.”
The dependants of BN(O) status holders from Hong Kong who settle in the UK have a right to attend school in the UK. BN(O) status holders who already live in the UK or who move to live in the UK under the new visa scheme can apply for a school place for their children through the local authority.
For children aged four, parents should apply to their local authority by the national closing date for applications for state-funded primary schools, which is January 15, for a place in Reception for the following September.
For children are aged 10 years, parents should normally apply to their local authority by the national closing date for applications for state-funded secondary schools, which is October 31, for a place in Year 7 for the following September.
Families who want to apply to a fee-paying independent school, will need to apply directly to the school.
Since March 2021, approximately 27,000 BN(O) holders have applied for a visa since January; the number of visas granted will be released by the government in May. It is estimated that around 153,000 BNO status holders and their families will be granted a visa in the next year.