Frequently Asked Questions for Local Authorities
What is the funding for?
The aim of the funding is to provide local authorities with the funding to offer English language classes for that BN(O) visa holders and their families and ensure support can be provided to BN(O) visa holders and any dependents who are destitute or at risk of destitution.
What are your plans for the provision of future funding for the Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas) Welcome Programme?
The current funding is for this financial year 2022/23. We will be piloting a range of approaches to supporting BN(O) visa holders, working with local partners including local authorities, SMPs and the VCSE
Who can get ESOL support?
The funding available through this package of support is intended to support those who have a BN(O) visa, either as a BN(O) visa holder or as a dependant. They require support to learn English or improve their English language ability.
Who can get destitution support?
The funding available through this package of support is intended to support those who have a BN(O) visa, either as a BN(O) visa holder or as a dependant.
Where a BN(O) visa holder approaches their local authority for support before applying for a change of conditions, they should be encouraged to make the application as soon as reasonably practicable. . Only one destitution claim may be made for each household.
The claim form for this funding asks the local authority to confirm that it has seen evidence that individual, or household, is:
- destitute, or
- at risk of imminent destitution, or
- that their income is not sufficient to meet a child’s particular and essential additional needs, or
- that they are faced with exceptional financial circumstances.
It is important to remember that the BN(O) visa holder may not have access to all the evidence, therefore DLUHC would encourage local authorities to take a flexible approach to the evidence requested.
How much funding will be provided to each BN(O) visa holder?
This is a targeted intervention for which the following funding has been agreed:
- up to £850 per adult to support access to English language classes for BN(O) visa holders.
- up to £2,720 per BN(O) household for destitution support.
What if there’s more demand than expected?
The available funding is based on current estimates of demand and will be kept under review.
What do you mean by supporting access to ESOL?
It will be for each local authority to decide what assistance can be provided to those BN(O) visa holders and their families who require support to learn English or improve their English language ability.
The ambition is for local authorities making claims for this funding to build upon existing ESOL infrastructure in place within their local area – through collaborating and working with community groups and ESOL providers already established within their local area.
What provision is being made for young people who require English language support?
This funding does not cover the costs of providing English language provision for under-16s, as local authorities have a statutory duty to provide sufficient school places for children of school age (5-16 years old).
Children of BN(O) visa holders who are aged 16,17 and 18 coming to UK with a right to reside in UK would be eligible under ESFA funding rules. It will be for individual educational institutions to assess the needs of each student when deciding on an appropriate course of study.
How local authorities be able to reclaim the costs of providing creche/childcare provision where required for ESOL provision?
Where a learner requires creche/childcare provision, local authorities should consider practical solutions supporting learners. Where possible support should be provided as part of the provision and additional costs may be reclaimed, subject to the limit per learner.
What specific type of ESOL provision is the funding aimed?
BN(O) visa holders and their family members will have differing needs and level of English language and literacy so there is no one singular uniform activity that this funding should be used for. Instead, the local authority funding requirements should be informed by the nature of existing local provision and by each adult learner’s specific circumstances and requirements.
How to claim for associated costs such as exam fees, initial learner assessments etc?
Where possible this should be built into the overall provision and claimed up to the limit.
What does the limit cover?
The limit can cover any duration of learning as long as it covers the cost of one learner for one course for one financial year of the funding
What is destitution support?
It will be for each local authority to decide what assistance can be provided to BN(O) visa holders and their families based upon an individual assessment of a person or household’s status, circumstances and support needs.
Where a local authority considers that assistance is appropriate, the local authority should satisfy itself that it is acting within the law.
What is considered destitution in relation to the lifting of NRPF?
In line with other immigration routes across that allow for a change of conditions, a person is considered destitute if:
- they do not have adequate accommodation or any means of obtaining it (whether or not their other essential living needs are met).
- they have adequate accommodation or the means of obtaining it but cannot meet their other essential living needs.
- they are at risk of destitution if either or both of the above are imminent.
What is the process for BN(O) visa holders who need to apply for a change of condition?
Applicants who wish to apply for a change of conditions can do so online via the following link: Change of Conditions (visas-immigration.service.gov.uk)
How will the grant be provided?
DLUHC will reimburse local authorities for the cost of providing ESOL and destitution support to BN(O) visa holders and their dependants. This funding will be available in arrears on a quarterly basis following submission of the claim form.
Claims will be made through the DELTA system. Completed claim forms should be submitted on a quarterly basis within seven working days of the end of the quarter.
For English language support, claims for any costs incurred up to the £850 limit for each learner should be submitted for the quarter in which the English language class was completed
For destitution support, claims should be submitted for the quarter in which the ‘no recourse to public funds’ (NRPF) condition has been lifted or the limit of £2,720 for the household has been reached, whichever comes first.
Which local authorities can access the targeted support funds?
The funding can be claimed by all county councils and unitary authorities. Where lower tier councils are providing some elements of the support, they will need to agree arrangements for claiming the funding with the local upper tier council, while ensuring that the limits for English language and destitution support are not exceeded.
What is the role of SWSMP in the programme?
SMPs will play an integral role in the delivery of the Hong Kong BN(O) Welcome Programme, coordinating the welcome of BN(O) visa holders into their new communities with local authorities and the VCSE.
SMPs will have a role to play in assisting the department in the VCSE regional funding by promoting, co-ordinating and undertaking an initial assessment of applications from relevant VCSE organisations, encouraging relevant VCSE organisations to make applications, co-ordinating those received and undertaking an initial assessment as per the guidance for the VCSE fund.
What is the role of welcome hub?
The Welcome hub will provide a range of support, this may include:
- working closely with partners to share resources, review requests for support and assisting with joint commissioning between areas.
- communicating and raising awareness of the department’s wider BN(O) Welcome Programme.
- providing constructive feedback to the department on issues that cannot be resolved locally.
- acting as a critical friend to the department facilitating continuous improvement in community cohesion and support for local areas.
- sharing aggregated intelligence with DLUHC to better understand the volume, destination and needs of the BN(O) visa holders.
- acting as a conduit for the sharing of information between central government, devolved administrations, local authorities, local partners and the existing SMP network.
How can those on the BN(O) route prove their immigration status?
Once a BN(O) visa has been granted, depending on how the application was made, the BN(O) visa holder will either be able to view immigration visa information online or receive a sticker (called a ‘vignette’) that goes in their passport.
If a BN(O) visa holder has a vignette, they have to collect a biometric residence permit (BRP) after they arrive.
The BRP will include:
- name, date and place of birth
- fingerprints and a photo of the visa holder’s face (this is the biometric information)
- immigration status and any conditions of the status holder’s stay whether the status holder can access public funds, or whether they can work and study
If the BN(O) visa holder applied for the BN(O) route online using the ‘UK Immigration: ID Check’ app to scan their passport, they will not need to collect a BRP. Instead, they will receive a digital immigration status which they will be able to view online.
The BN(O) visa holder can also use the online service to share their immigration status information with others, for example, employers, local authorities or universities. See further information on immigration status
The online status will show:
- name, date and place of birth
- immigration status and any conditions of on the visa holder’s stay
- dates the visa is valid (start date and end date)
How the local authorities have access to real time data to help plan for new arrivals?
DLUHC are working across government to bring together available data to inform planning at national and local levels.
As more BN(O) visa holders start to arrive in the UK, DLUHC will have a better understanding from working with local authorities and SMPs of where BN(O) visa holders settle.
For more information, please contact South West Strategic Migration Partnership BN(O) welcome hub by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
See also Hong Kong British Nationals (Overseas) welcome programme – information for local authorities – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) or “Guidance for Local Authorities (England) on provision of targeted support (English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and/or destitution support to BN(O) visa holders”.