Perseus’ brief practical guide to leave outside the Rules for British Nationals (Overseas)

On 22 July 2020, the United Kingdom announced some policy details in relation to the proposed Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas) (“BNOs”) visa scheme. The United Kingdom Government announced that the BNO visa scheme will be live from January 2021, and although the United Kingdom Government recommends that BNO status holders and their family members should travel when the scheme becomes live, it is nonetheless recognised that BNO status holders and their dependants may wish to leave Hong Kong sooner in light of the situation in Hong Kong.

英國在2020年7月22日公布關於擬議「英國國民(海外)(BNO)護照簽證計劃」的若干政策詳情。該計劃將由2021年1月起實施。英國政府雖然建議BNO身分持有人及其家屬應在計劃實施時方入境,但亦明白到,鑑於香港的情況,BNO身分持有人及其受養人可能會希望早點離港。

To facilitate BNO status holders and their dependants leaving Hong Kong and entering the United Kingdom before the BNO visa scheme becomes live in January 2021, the Home Office has announced a special leave outside the Rules (“LOtR”) specifically for Hong Kong BNO status holders and their dependants. On 22 July 2020, the Home Office also published guidance on this LOtR specifically for Hong Kong BNO holders.

為了讓BNO身分持有人及其受養人能在2021年1月計劃實施前離港並入境英國,英國內政部公布為香港BNO身分持有人及其受養人提供 “leave outside the Rules” (LOtR) 的特別安排,並在2020年7月22日宣布有關指引

To be considered for LOtR, the LOtR section in the Home Office guidance states you will need to show the following:

  • your identity
  • your BNO status
  • that you normally live in Hong Kong
  • that you can accommodate and support yourself financially in the UK (and health insurance for the full period of your LOtR)

如你擬申請LOtR安排,內政部指引中有關LOtR的章節訂明,你須出示以下證明:

  • 你的身分
  • 你的BNO身分 
  • 你通常在香港居住
  • 你經濟上有能力在英國居住和生活(以及備有醫療保險,保障範圍涵蓋整段LOtR期間)

The LOtR scheme is also open for non-BNO status dependants travelling as a family unit. The Home Office guidance considers the following as a dependant:

  • spouse or civil partner
  • unmarried partner
  • child (under the age of 18 when they first applied)
  • other family members where they can show there is a high level of dependency

LOtR計劃亦適用於沒有BNO身分但以家庭單位一同入境的受養人。根據內政部指引,受養人為:

  • 配偶或民事結合伴侶
  • 未婚伴侶
  • 子女(首次申請時年齡在18歲以下)
  • 能證明極須倚賴BNO身分持有人供養的其他家屬

The LOtR section of the Home Office’s guidance sets out the kind of documents which you may use to show, so it is not intended to repeat this here. This document is intended to be a brief practical guide, rather than a piece of legal advice. With the amount of cases coming out of the woodwork showing that Border Force officers are applying the wrong restrictions, or simply not stamping passports, this is a practical guide as to what you might be able to do to make your intentions clear to the Border Force officer. Of course, there is nothing to guarantee that following the suggestions herein would necessarily mean the Border Force officer would apply the correct stamp to your passport, but at least it makes it easier to rectify afterwards if you have tried to follow these steps

內政部指引中有關LOtR的章節已載述你可出示的證明文件,因此本文不擬複述。本文旨在為你提供簡單實用的指引,內容不涉及法律意見。鑑於近來發生若干事件,有邊境人員對BNO身分持有人作出錯誤限制,又或拒絕在護照蓋章,本文擬為你提供實用的指引,建議你可採取一些步驟,以便向邊境人員清晰闡釋你的入境意願。當然,即使你已遵循本文建議,亦不保證邊境人員定會為你的護照蓋上正確印章,但已採取有關步驟,至少會有助於之後的更正工作。

Step 1 – Pre-departure

步驟一 – 離境前

Go through the requirements in the Home Office guidance carefully, and make sure you have documents to show that you can meet all of the requirements. If you are unsure whether all the documents which you have gathered together is satisfactory to meet the requirements, speak to a lawyer.

細閱內政部指引所作的規定,確保你帶備所需的文件,證明你已符合全部規定。如你不確定你所準備的所有文件能否證明你已符合有關規定,你可尋求律師協助。

Although the Home Office guidance does not say you need to provide health insurance documents, it is recommended you have this with you, since the guidance says, “You’ll need full health insurance throughout your stay with ‘Leave Outside the Rules’.”

雖然內政部指引並無訂明你須出示醫保文件,但鑑於該指引訂明:「你須購得醫療保險,為你以LOtR於英國居留的整段期間提供全面保障」*,建議你帶同該等文件。(*譯文並非英國內政部或英國政府的官方譯本)

Please also print out a copy of the guidance.

亦請列印一份指引副本。 

All the documents you have gathered above, including your health insurance documents and the guidance should NOT be packed into your hold luggage. You will be facing the Border Force officer before you collect your luggage, therefore these documents should be brought with your person in case you need these at the United Kingdom Border.

你須帶備的以上所有文件(包括醫保文件及指引)不應放在寄艙行李內。由於你在領取寄倉行李前須經邊境人員處理入境事宜,因此上述文件應攜帶在身,以便在有需要時出示。

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 concerns, you will need to complete the journey and contact details form before you travel. You can only fill in this form 48 hours before you are due to arrive in the United Kingdom.

由於新冠病毒疫情持續,你在出發前須填寫關於行程及聯絡詳情的表格。該表格可於扺達英國48小時前内填寫。

Also, please do not forget your travel passport(s) and other travel documents!!!

此外,請勿忘記攜帶你的護照及其他旅遊文件!!!

Step 2 – Before you get to the United Kingdom Border

步驟二 – 入境英國前

Take out a copy of the guidance which you have printed an keep it with your passport(s). The rest of the documents which you gathered and collected from step 1 above should be within easy reach in case they are needed at the United Kingdom Border. If you are travelling as a family, please make sure that your entire family sticks together so you can present yourself at the United Kingdom Border together as a family unit.

取出你已列印的指引副本,把指引副本與護照放在一起。為上文步驟一所準備的其他文件應存放在易於提取之處,以備入境時之需。如你與家人一同前往英國,全部家屬務須留在身伴,以便一同以家庭單位在邊境處理入境事宜。

Step 3 – At the United Kingdom Border

步驟三 – 在英國邊境

At the United Kingdom Border, you will need to present your passport(s) to the Border Force officer. Please also present the printed copy of the guidance which you have with you, and tell the Border Force officer that you wish to be granted “leave outside the Rules for BNOs”.

當你身處英國邊境,你須向邊境人員出示護照。請同時出示你所列印的指引副本,並告知邊境人員,你希望申請 “leave outside the Rules for BNOs” 。

Although the anecdotes seem to suggest very few people will be asked for the supporting documents which you have gathered in step 1, keep them within easy reach in case you are asked to show them in order to document that you do meet all the requirements for LOtR.

雖然按過往情況,邊境人員似乎甚少要求入境人士出示步驟一所述須準備的證明文件,但該等文件應存放在易於提取之處,以便在邊境人員要求下,你可隨時出示文件,以證明你符合關於LOtR的所有規定。

The Border Force officer may ask you some questions. Do not panic, and try to answer them as best as you can truthfully. If you do not understand, then simply tell the officer that you do not understand, and ask if the officer could ask the question again.

邊境人員或會向你提出一些問題。你無須緊張,只須盡能力給予確實的答案。你若不理解問題,可直接告訴邊境人員,請他再問一次。

You may be asked questions like where are you staying, or how long do you intend to stay. If you are asked about how long you want to stay, just tell the officer again that you are here for “leave outside the Rules for BNOs”, and wishing to wait for the BNO visa scheme.

邊境人員或會問你將居於何處,或你打算逗留多久等。如人員問及你擬逗留多久,你可告知人員,你此行是為申請 “leave outside the Rules for BNOs”,並希望等候BNO護照簽證計劃實施。

If all goes well, the Border Force will stamp your passport(s) and let you into the United Kingdom. If possible, check your passport(s) when you get it back, and make sure the passport has been stamped. If there is no stamp, you should ask the Border Force officer to stamp your passport. The United Kingdom, to an extent, relies on citizens to enforce Immigration Rules, like imposing fines for employers for employing those who are not legally in the United Kingdom, as well as imposing fines on landlords for renting to those who are not legally in the United Kingdom. Therefore if your passport is not stamped with anything, you may face difficulties in finding work as employers may not be willing to take the risk to employ someone without a stamp in their passport, or landlords may be unwilling to let property to someone without a stamp in their passport! If the Border Force officer indicates that you do not need a stamp, you should ask if the officer could check with the Chief Immigration Officer on duty, explaining that you are NOT a British citizen, but a BNO status holder wanting to be granted “leave outside the Rules for BNOs”.

如過程順利,邊境人員會為你的護照蓋章,並讓你入境。如情況許可,你在領回護照後,請檢查護照是否已蓋章。如未有蓋章,應請人員補印。某程度上,英國政府有賴國民協助執行各項入境規例,例如向聘請非法逗留人士的僱主或出租予該等人士的業主施加罰款。因此,假如你的護照未獲任何蓋章,你將難以就業,因為僱主或不欲冒險僱用護照欠蓋章的人士,而業主亦可能不願意把物業租予該等租客。假如邊境人員表示你的護照無須蓋章,你應要求人員向當值的邊境主管查證,並解釋你並非英國公民,而是希望取得 “leave outside the Rules for BNOs” 的BNO身分持有人。

If the Border Force officer stamps your passport(s), this will usually comprise two stamps. One stamp is the entry date stamp, and another stamp will indicate for how long you are allowed to remain, and whether employment and recourse to public funds are prohibited or not.

如邊境人員替你的護照蓋章,通常會蓋上兩個印章。第一個印章顯示你的入境日期,另一個則顯示你獲准逗留的期限,以及是否被限制就業和領取公共基金。

Immigration stamps from Heathrow Airport. Wikimedia Commons.

If you get a stamp which prohibits you from employment, this is wrong as the guidance says that LOtR for BNOs allows for work and study. You should try to clarify this with the Border Force officer. If the Border Force officer insists this is correct, you can either ask if the officer could check with the Chief Immigration Officer on duty explaining that you are here for “leave outside the Rules for BNOs”. If you do not feel comfortable with this, pass through and deal with the matter later.

如你的護照被蓋上禁止就業印章,便是蓋錯印章,因為指引訂明,BNO身分持有人獲發的LOtR容許其就業和就學。你應嘗試為此要求邊境人員作出澄清。如該人員堅持蓋章無誤,你可要求人員向當值的邊境主管查證,並解釋你此行是為申請 “leave outside the Rules for BNOs”。如你不希望這樣做,你亦可先行入境,其後才予處理。

Step 4 – If you have been given a stamp restricting you from work

步驟四 – 假如護照被蓋上限制就業印章

Sadly there have been cases where people have been given the wrong restrictions on work and study. If you are one of these people and you did not get this corrected at the airport, then you need to get clarification from the Border Force as to your ability to work and / or study.

以往曾發生若干不幸事故,邊境人員錯誤向入境人士作出就業及就讀限制。如果你是上述人士,而並未在機場更正上述情況,便有需要要求邊境部門就你的就業及/或就學能力作出澄清。

You should speak to a lawyer about your situation and ask them to write to the Border Force for you in order to correct this.

你應就你的情況尋求律師協助, 以及請律師代你致函邊境部門,要求作出更正。

If you do not want to pay a lawyer to do this, you can try and write to the Border Force yourself at complaints@homeoffice.gov.uk. You may find the following template useful, although please note that ideally you will seek legal advice to cater for your specific situation, and the template below is not to be construed as legal advice, or interpreted as the most suitable way for you to resolve your case.

如你不希望為此委聘律師,你可自行發電郵至邊境部門(complaints@homeoffice.gov.uk)。以下範本可供你參考,但請注意,最理想的做法是就你的個別情況尋求法律意見。以下範本不應解讀為包含法律意見,亦不應解讀為解決你問題的最適合方法。

To: complaints@homeoffice.gov.uk

Subject: [insert name(s), DOB(s), passport nationality, passport number(s)]

Dear Sirs,

My name is [insert name]. I am a British National (Overseas) (“BNO”) from Hong Kong. I entered the United Kingdom using my BNO passport numbered [insert passport number]. [If appropriate, indicate with whom you entered the UK , and what nationality is / are their passport(s), and their passport number(s)] (I / We) entered the United Kingdom on [insert date] at [insert port of entry and terminal].

(I / We) entered the United Kingdom seeking leave outside the Rules for BNOs, however, (I / we) were given a stamp by the Border Force officer applying a prohibition on employment and study. (I / We) told the Border Force officer [insert a brief account of what you told the Border Force officer, and include whether you handed a copy of the policy to the Border Force officer]. I have attached herewith a copy of (my / our) passport biodata page(s), and the entry stamp(s) which (I was / we were) given by the Border Force officer.

I have also attached (my / our) Hong Kong ID card(s), and (my / our) boarding pass(es) for your reference. Furthermore, I have attached documents which (I / we) had with (me / us) when (I / we) presented (myself / ourselves) at the United Kingdom Border showing that I can meet the requirements of the leave to remain outside the Rules for BNOs guidance.

I would be grateful if the Border Force could provide a correction and clarification letter to confirm that (I am / we are) able to work and / or study as per the guidance for leave outside the Rules for BNOs which was first published on 22 July 2020.

Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours faithfully,
[insert name]

As mentioned, nothing in this guide should be construed as legal advice, and you should always seek independent legal advice for your specific circumstances. Please note that this is just a practical guide showing what you may expect at the United Kingdom Border, but there is, of course, no way to predict precisely what will happen when you arrive at the United Kingdom Border.

如上所述,本指引不應解讀為包含法律意見,你應就你的個別情況尋求獨立的法律意見。請注意,本文僅旨在提供實用的指引,讓你了解在入境英國時可能會面對的情況,但無法精準地預測當你扺達英國邊境時會實際遇到什麼事情。

If you have any questions, do feel free to reach out to me via Twitter or Facebook.

如有任何疑問,歡迎透過TwitterFacebook與我聯絡。

Header image: Wikimedia Commons.

頁首圖片:Wikimedia Commons

中文版翻譯來自 Hornet394

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