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ABIL Lawyers
Hong Kong


1. GOVERNMENT CONTACTS AND HELPFUL LINKS

Ministries or Agencies involved in the visa and permit process:

Chinese embassy or consulate in the applicant's country of nationality or permanent residence

Immigration Department of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG)

External Web sites:

Immigration Department

Embassies Worldwide

2. VISAS AND PERMITS

In general, unless a person has the right of abode or right to land in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), he or she must obtain a visa before coming to Hong Kong for the purpose of education, taking up employment, training, investment, residence or to stay in the HKSAR as a visitor longer than the allowed visa-free period.

While each application is determined on its individual merits, an applicant should meet normal immigration requirements (such as holding a valid travel document with the right to return to his or her country of residence or citizenship, having a clear criminal record and raising no security or criminal concerns to the HKSAR, having no likelihood of becoming a burden on Hong Kong) as well as the relevant specific eligibility criteria before he or she may be considered for an entry visa or permit. The eligibility criteria may be subject to change from time to time.

BUSINESS VISITORS

Visitors are not allowed to work, including volunteer work; establish or join in any business; or enter school as a student, except for short courses not involving full-time studies. An entry visa or permit must correspond to the purpose of entry, and change of status after arrival is only allowed under the most unusual circumstances.

Allowable Activities

A business visitor is not permitted to engage in productive employment, even if paid from a foreign source. Business meetings, negotiations, and attending conferences and seminars are all permissible and although the line between "work" and "business" is sometimes not clear, a business visitor who engages in productive work in Hong Kong is in breach of his conditions of stay and can be charged with an offense and subject to criminal fines and imprisonment.

In addition, the employer of a business visitor who "works" without immigration authorization can be subject to criminal fines and prosecution

Maximum Period of Stay

The duration of stay is typically limited to a maximum of 90 days, except that British nationals are automatically granted up to 180 days. The period of stay is determined from the date of first entry into Hong Kong, not when the visa stamp is issued.

Extensions

An extension of stay for a business visa may be approved if the applicant provides proof that he or she will continue to be a "bona fide visitor to Hong Kong." The extension may be obtained from the immigration authorities in Hong Kong before the expiration of the initial visa.

Business Visitor Requirements

No visa or entry permit is required for any purpose if you hold any of the following travel documents:

  • Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Passport
  • Hong Kong Certificate of Identity
  • Hong Kong Re-Entry Permit
  • Hong Kong Seaman's Identity Book
  • Hong Kong Document of Identity for Visa Purposes
  • Travel documents bearing certain endorsements
  • Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card

There is no specific visa for business visitors; it is simply called a visitor entry visa. An application for an entry visa/permit to enter Hong Kong for employment or investment may be favorably considered if:

  • There is no security objection and no known record of serious crime with respect to the applicant; and
  • The applicant has a good educational background; normally a first degree in the relevant field would be required, but in special circumstances, this may include good technical qualifications, proven professional abilities, and/or relevant experience and achievements supported by documentary evidence; and
  • The applicant has a confirmed offer of employment and is employed in a job relevant to his or her academic qualifications or work experience that cannot be readily taken up by the local work force; and
  • The remuneration package, including income, accommodation, medical and other fringe benefits, is broadly commensurate with the prevailing market level for professionals in Hong Kong; or
  • The applicant is in aposition to make a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong.

Criteria to be considered include:

  • Whether there is a genuine vacancy for an employee in Hong Kong;
  • What skills, knowledge, and experience are needed for the job;
  • Whether the terms and conditions of employment are comparable to those in the local market;
  • Whether the applicant is suitably qualified and has experience relevant to the job; and whether there is  a readily available local person who has the qualifications to do the job.

Approximate Timeline

Applications are generally processed between four to six weeks but  can vary depending on the Consulate and current conditions.

Fees

The cost for an ordinary entry visa is approximately HK$160

Extensions or changes in conditions of stay are HK$ 160

EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION

There are three main categories of temporary work visas:

  • Professional employment
  • Investment
  • Training

There is also an Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and an Importation of Labor Program operated under the Supplementary Labor Scheme (SLS).

An employment visa is valid only for work with the sponsoring employer. The individual may not transfer to work for a different employer without first obtaining approval from the Hong Kong Immigration Department.

The employment visa application process covers both the entry into Hong Kong and work authorization.

PRC mainland residents must apply under the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals. Taiwanese passport holders must apply from overseas and are not eligible for Change of Status. Some nationalities are not eligible to apply and special rules apply for certain nationalities because of security reasons.

Maximum Period of Stay

The employment visa is normally valid for 12 months and may be renewed in two-year increments.

Work Visa Process and Documents

An employment visa application may be submitted through the Chinese Consulate with jurisdiction over the applicant's place of residence or by the sponsoring employer in Hong Kong directly to the Hong Kong Immigration Department (HKID). All employment visa applications submitted through the Chinese Consulate will be referred to the HKID for approval, so substantial time can be saved by filing directly in Hong Kong.

Supporting documentation includes:

  • Completed application form ID(E)936, or ID(E)990 for professionals;
  • Valid national passport;
  • Two passport-style photographs;
  • A copy of the sponsor's Business Registration Certificate, Certificate of Incorporation and/or Memorandum of Incorporation and Articles of Association;
  • Financial standing of the sponsor/sponsor's company (income tax return, trading profit and loss account, profit tax return);
  • Company staff list with salary offered and position held and list of expatriate staff previously or currently recruited from overseas;
  • A copy of the applicant's service contract or letter of appointment with details of post, salaries and benefits;
  • Full description of the applicant's post;
  • Details, with proof, of applicant's academic qualifications and experience relevant to the post; e.g., copies of diplomas, certificates and testimonials;
  • A letter, with supporting proof from the employer (if possible), stating the reason why the post cannot be filled locally;
  • If the applicant is to replace someone already working in Hong Kong, the personal particulars and his whereabouts (if known);
  • If the applicant is to fill a new post, an explanation of why his or her services are essential;
  • Evidence of the applicant's past residence in Hong Kong (if any); and
  • Application fee.

In addition to the documents above, other information or documents in support of the application may be required by the processing officer in individual cases.

Work Permit Process and Documents

There is no separate permit process for work authorization.

An employment visa holder is immediately entitled to work, although he or she must also apply for a Hong Kong identification card within 30 days of entry to Hong Kong.

Approximate Timeline

Visa applications are generally processed in four to six weeks and can vary depending on the Consulate and current conditions.

Fees

The cost for an ordinary entry visa is approximately HK$160

Extensions or changes in conditions of stay are HK$160

Dependents

The accompanying spouse and dependents aged 18 and under should apply for their visas in conjunction with the principal applicant, either in their country of citizenship or in their country of legal residence.

Additional documents to include with the principal's visa application include:

1.Photocopies of each family member's passports

2.Two photographs of each family member

3.Original, certified copy of marriage certificate and translation

4.Original, certified copy of birth certificate of children and translation

Spouses or dependents of employment visa holders are authorized to work or undertake a course of study without prior approval from the Department of Immigration under present policy.

Residence Permit

Within 30 days of entering Hong Kong, employment and dependent visa holders who are granted a period of stay of 180 days or more must obtain a temporary identification card from the HKID. This document is for identity purposes and does not grant permission to reside in Hong Kong as the duration of the stay is reflected by the visa in the passport of the employment visa or dependent visa holder.

Permanent Residence

An employment visa holder may apply for "Right of Abode" or permanent residence, upon proof of seven years of continuous "ordinary residence" in Hong Kong and the execution of a declaration that Hong Kong is his or her place of permanent residence.