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Emigration and Visas in Hong Kong

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Emigration and Visas in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong Emigration

Visit Visas.

For the majority of overseas citizens who want to visit Hong Kong on business or pleasure, its possible to obtain visas on arrival. Duration of the visa is dependent on the passport, typically they are, seven, fourteen, thirty, ninety and for British Citizens 180 days respectively. However there are some countries whose nationals require visas for either business or pleasure who must obtain visas before they enter Hong Kong. Applicants require a Hong Kong sponsor and applications take approximately four weeks to complete upon receipt.

Everyone entering HK either with a visa issued by the immigration department or visa on arrival has to satisfy the immigration officer if need be they are genuine visitors. It is not an automatic right to give the maximum number of days. The officer can curtail the visit or at worst refuse entry into HK if not satisfied with the reasons if questioned.

Researching business opportunities, attending meetings, trade shows etc are considered as visitor activities. What may be considered delivering goods and services is work and an employment visa is required.

Do you need a visa, check

Working Visas.

  • Establishing or joining an existing business
  • Employment, new hires or intra-company transfers
  • QMAS (Quality Migrant Admission Scheme) for highly skilled migrants
  • Dependent visa.

A Visa for Establishing Or Joining An Existing Business

For those setting up a limited company or taking an interest in an existing business holding 25% or more in shares, they require an investment visa.

The applicant must possess the relevant skills and experience that will benefit the company. Being the sole Director/Shareholder or having a significant shareholding doesn't give the applicant an automatic right to live and work in Hong Kong. The company must show that the entity is a viable business and that the parent/overseas company or individual is able of supporting the venture. There are key elements that Hong Kong is looking for in return. Those being, the generation of local employment, there is a demand for the business and that other Hong Kong companies, both supplies and clients will benefit. Another criterion is to demonstrate to the immigration department that the business will bring "a significant contribution to Hong Kong". This statement is intentionally vague and open to interpretation. A key part of this type of application is to provide Hong Kong immigration with a detailed business plan and cash flow forecast for the first year and beyond.

A sponsor is required that can be Hong Kong permanent resident or business known to the applicant. Processing time from the date of submission is typically 6-8 weeks.

Visas for employees

These broadly fall into two categories, new hires and intra-company transfers, both require a sponsor.

Internal Transfers

The employee should have two years relevant experience holding a senior/specialist or managerial position within the company. The Hong Kong company will act as the transferees sponsor.

The compensation and benefits package should be one that reflects the level of seniority within the company. As a benchmark $25,000HKD or in excess of $3,000USD per month would be considered a minimum.

Processing time from the date of submission would be 4-6 weeks.

For new companies looking to transfer senior staff that are not Directors or Shareholders the following applies. The same requirements and criterion for the investment visa would apply with the exception of the employee not holding any financial interest in the company. Processing time for this situation would be 6-8 weeks.

New Hires

The company must demonstrate to the immigration department that there is no one available to fill the proposed vacancy from the resident Hong Kong labour force.

This is done either by running an advertisement in a publication that is available to everyone in Hong Kong which includes on-line recruitment websites. The advert must run for at least two weeks and a summary of those who applied retained for the visa application. Hong Kong is a location of equal opportunities, care and consideration must be taken into account when preparing advertising copy.

The same minimum visa criterion applies for skill and experience as the intra-company transfer.

Processing time for established companies is 4-6 weeks from the date of application

QMAS (Quality Migrant Admission Scheme) for highly skilled migrants

This is two level point based (General and Achievement) level quota-based scheme looking to attract highly skilled or talented individuals that will enhance Hong Kong's economic competitiveness in the global market. NO sponsor required.

Pass mark for the General test is 80 points (subject to review)

Achievement test, 165 points under one scoring factor only.

This scheme is heavily oversubscribed and the refusal rate is very high. Simply having enough points does not mean you will automatically proceed to the next stage.

This scheme is not for people who may ordinarily qualify for an employment visa but cant get a sponsor.

In addition to the requirements, applicants need to be able to show they can support and accommodate themselves, plus any dependents while seeking employment or setting up a business.

Processing time is typically 3 months from the time of submission.

Dependent visas

In all the visa categories mentioned previously, those who are lawfully married have children under the age of 18 can bring their dependents to Hong Kong.

The applicant will act as their sponsor and needs to be able to demonstrate they are able to support and accommodate in Hong Kong.

Its recommended that any application for dependents be made at the same time as the principal visa applicant.

Those holding dependent visas are free to take any employment, set-up business and study without further approval being required from the Director of Immigration.

Visa Extensions

These must be made while the applicant is in Hong Kong. Applications can be made up to a month before the visa expires.

The immigration offers a daily walk-in quota, alternatively there is an on-line appointment booking system.

Hong Kong ID card / Visa activation

When a visa is issued it has a validity of 90 days to active the visa when entering Hong Kong.

After activation the holder has 30 days to apply for a Hong Kong ID card that is required to be carried with the holder at all times.

Once the card is issued it can be used to use the e channel when leaving and entering Hong Kong.

Visas issued as in the categories previously mentioned to the same employer or company are issued on a one year, then two, two and three year basis. After completing seven years continuous residency in Hong Kong, the visa holder may apply to become a permanent resident of Hong Kong.

The information set out in the above is for reference only and subject to change without notice.

Click here to Ask an Expert about Emigration and Visas in Hong Kong

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  • > Emigration and Visa advice.

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