Hong Kong BN(O) Visa Scheme - Wales

 

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.

 

The WSMP have recruited a Coordinator who, on commencement of employment, will drive forward the development of a Welcome Hub and other initiatives in support of the scheme, to ensure the appropriate services and support are in place to welcome Visa-holders to Wales. 

 

If you work in a school, for a council or local charity and have had requests for help from newly arrived people from Hong Kong, please contact us 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 erica.williams@wlga.gov.uk. Depending on your issue, we can put you in touch with the organisations and individuals who can provide support.

 

This page will be updated as soon as we have more information that is specifically relevant to Wales, but in the meantime, if you are here from Hong Kong – Welcome to Wales / Croeso i Gymru. You will find information about Wales on the Sanctuary Wales website.


Welcome Hubs

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 ESOL Coordinator for details erica.williams@wlga.gov.uk, including details of online courses to improve your English.

 

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

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 which provides further information regarding the legal status of Hong Kong BNO status holders, which may help when renting a property.

 

Employment

Careers Wales provides free tailored information, advice and guidance to help individuals to make decisions on learning, training and work. They can help you identify 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 erica.williams@wlga.gov.uk 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. They can help with transferring your qualifications and comparing them with UK equivalents.

 

Health

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 16 years old in Wales. Find out how to book your vaccination here.


Resources and Reading

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, 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.


 

 

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