The North East Migration Partnership (NEMP) is working with the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and coordinating the welcome programme for new arrivals who are settling in the North East. NEMP have developed this Welcome Hub to provide links to services and access to resources that may provide assistance.
This page includes introductory information for people arriving to the North East as Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas) which will help you settle into the UK and your local area.
Hong Kong BN(O) local authority information and guidance
If you are a local authority representative, please see the below link for further information and guidance for local authorities.
What is a BN(O) Visa?
You can find full information about applying for a BN(O) visa on the Government website.
If you are from Hong Kong and are a British National (Overseas), you and your family members can apply for a British National (Overseas) Visa. This is a BN(O) visa. The visa allows you to live, work and study in the UK.
You can apply for a BN(O) visa from outside or inside the UK. The visa allows you to apply to enter or stay in the UK for a period of 30 months (which you can extend by a further 30 months) or a period of 5 years.
The government have also published an online welcome guide for BN(O) status holders available in English and Cantonese. It contains information about:
- Accessing public services (registering with a GP and applying for a National Insurance Number)
- Understanding life in the UK (how to rent or buy a house, set up a business or apply for a school place for your children).
There are also other resources on employment, housing and health available on the london.gov.uk website.
Services in the North East
There is a comprehensive directory available on the NEMP website of over 290 services available to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers across the region, which can be filtered to search by location or by search type including English classes.
Health and accessing a GP
You are entitled to access health care services provided by the National Health Service (NHS) for free, such as GPs (doctors), hospitals and maternity services. You need to register with a GP as soon as you can. You have the right to an interpreter if you need one, ask for this when booking an appointment by telephone or online. You do not need proof of address or immigration status. Click the link below to find your local GP.
Please see linked below a video in Cantonese on navigating the NHS.
In May 2021, the Secretary of State issued a letter to landlord and letting agent representative organisations which providers further information regarding the legal status of Hong Kong BN(O) status holders. This information may help when renting a property. BN(O) status holders will either have a BN(O) visa or they can be granted Leave Outside the Rules (LOTR). Both BN(O) visa holders and LOTR have the right to rent in the UK. The letter also encourages landlords and letting agents to exercise discretion when asking for guarantors and referencing checks, by accepting alternative forms of reference. Click the link below to access this letter.
Find out more about the UK governments advice on how to buy a home by clicking the below link. This information includes details on what you can afford, preparing to apply for a mortgage and instructing a legal representative.
Education and ESOL
Please see linked below some ESOL resources that are free and available online:
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 an introduction to bookkeeping and accounting, to succeed with maths.
Employment, career advice and national insurance numbers
The Prince’s Trust are a charity that help young people aged 11 to 30 from anywhere in the UK to offer hundreds of free courses, grants and training to start your career. Click the below link to go directly to the Prince’s Trust website.
For free tailored information, advice and guidance around employment, you can contact the National Careers Service. They can help you make decisions on learning, training and work, finding local courses and exploring different career paths. Click the link below to go direct to their website.
Citizens Advice offer information and guidance regarding your rights at work. This includes checking your employment contract, hours you are working and being paid. Click the below link for more information.
Find out more about the UK governments advice on starting a business by clicking the below link. This information includes details about writing a business plan, working for yourself and employing staff.
To work in the UK, you will need a national insurance number. You can start work without it but you will have to show your employer that you have the right to work through other means. You can now apply for your national insurance number online, click the below link for more information.
Accessing a bank account
Click the link below to access a getting started guide for bank accounts from the Refugee Council. It will provide you with a step by step process, the documents you will need and information about different types of bank accounts.
Citizens Advice also provide guidance on accessing bank accounts. Click the below link for more information.
Hate Crime reporting
If you or someone you know experiences abuse, whether physically or verbally, because or your race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity, please report it. You can report it to the police directly by phoning 101.
You can also get support to help you report a hate crime through third party reporting centers. They will provide confidential advice and support you to cope with the emotional and practical impact of hate. You can remain anonymous if you wish, and you don’t need to have contact with the police if you do not want to. Please see below links to some third party reporting centers.
FAQ for employers and landlords
Migration Yorkshire have created a FAQs for employers and landlords on the rights of BNO visa holders. Please see the below link for this information.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to be introduced to the single point of contact in the region or for any queries and further information regarding Hong Kong BN(O).