Hong Kong Visas Made Easy


Apr 2019

Do I Need to Work for the Same Employer for 7 Years to Get the Right of Abode in Hong Kong?

Posted by / in Long Stay & PR, Musing / 5 responses

First Published July 20, 2012

7 years to get the Right of Abode in Hong Kong without changing employers in that time? To secure permanent residency in the HKSAR, you need to make an application for the Right of Abode. The Right of Abode, once granted, is manifested in the issue to you of a Permanent Hong Kong Identity Card.

So, you make an application for a Permanent Identity Card, once approved get the Right of Abode and in the process become a permanent resident of the HKSAR.

Under the Basic Law, the test for approvability for the Right of Abode is as follows:

(a) You must have been continuously and ordinarily resident in the HKSAR for not less than 7 years.

(b) Any absences outside of Hong Kong in that time must have been of a merely temporary nature (as evidenced by your intent at the time you made each departure and what you left behind to return back to after each temporary period of time spent abroad).

(c) You must have taken concrete steps towards making Hong Kong your only place of permanent residence.

(d) There must be no security objection.

(e) You must have no outstanding taxation liabilities.

Consequently, the answer to the question posed hinges on whether changing employers during the requisite time frame is activity which could be said to be ‘ordinary’ in the context of 7 years continuous residence.

And, of course, the answer is yes.

People change jobs and careers all the time in the ordinary course of their lives in Hong Kong. They also get married, divorced, have children, lose family members, start (and close down) their own businesses and go on to rejoin the workforce.

All of this is deemed ‘ordinary’ for the purposes of the approvability test for a Permanent Identity Card. None of these things impact on permanent residence eligibility.

The real concern, however, is if you:

(1) Spend more than 6 months outside of Hong Kong in any given year whilst holding a residence visa, or

(2) Have a lengthy and significant break in your residence visa status during the 7 years.

Both of these can conspire to defeat your eligibility for the Right of Abode and will require careful planning if you are able to anticipate them in the expectation of becoming a Permanent Resident in due course.

With good, advance planning, neither scenario need inhibit you from eventually securing the Right of Abode once the 7 year residence milestone has been passed.

More Stuff You May Find Useful or Interesting

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Losing the right of abode then using the eChannels

10 ‘must have’ resources for a sucessful Hong Kong permanent residency application

How To Apply For The Right of Abode in Hong Kong (American Club Talk)

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Apr 2019

10 Must Have Resources for a Successful Hong Kong Employment Visa Application

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Musing, Resource, VG Front Page / 32 responses

I have been asked twice recently about adding the Hong Kong employment visa to the “10 Must Have …” collection of resources on the Visa Geeza Blog so here you have it.

In addition to the resources detailed below, you can also find how to extend your Hong Kong employment visa here and in case your proposed employer doesn’t have one, this link will take you to the standard employment contract that we tend to use with our clients if  the need so arises.

INFOGRAPHIC – Newcomers Guide to Getting an Employment Visa for Hong Kong

FACTSHEET – Visa Information On the Hong Kong Employment Visa

PLAN – The Hong Kong Visa Application Roadmap

VIDEO – Your Employer Must Help You Get Your Hong Kong Employment Visa

TEMPLATES – How to Structure Your Hong Kong Employment Visa Application Argument

CASE STUDY – Hong Kong Employment Visa – Teenage High School Graduate Gets Approved!

VIDEO – Does Your Employer Control Your Hong Kong Immigration Destiny?

VIDEO – What’s the Minimum Salary Requirement for a Hong Kong Employment Visa?

VIDEO – If I Didn’t Graduate From a University Will It Preclude Me From Getting an Employment Visa in HK?

PODCAST – Can I Come to Hong Kong as a Visitor, Find a Job, then Change to an Employment Visa?

CASE STUDY – Hong Kong Employment Visa Application – When All Else Failed We Appealed to the Chief Executive – and Won!

VIDEO I Hate My Boss and Want to Leave My Job – What Happens to My Hong Kong Employment Visa?

PS – in case you’re counting there are actually 15 resources in this Post but ’10’ has a nice ring to it so I lied! I trust you’ll forgive my indiscretion!

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Apr 2019

Checking the Status of Your Hong Kong Visa Application On-Line…..Yeah Right!

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Family Visas, Investment Visas, Musing, Special Programmes / 66 responses

If you’ve made an application for a residence visa here, the Hong Kong Immigration Department provide you with a website URL and login credentials so that you can ‘track’ the progress of your case as it travels its way through the visa labyrinth that is the Immigration Tower.

So goes the theory anyway.

In fact, the experience is a lot more sombre than that.

The journey begins with the Official Receipt for your application which arrives via mail between 7-10 days after you have filed your application.

This snail mail communication invites you to go to www.gov.hk/immdstatusenquiry which, once visited, takes you through a couple of  other pages/disclaimer options before you get to the meat and potatoes of the experience.

Then you input your official Reference Number.

Then the date of birth of the applicant.

The Eldorado that awaits you is one of three status updates:

In progress (= wait some more, we’re still working on it).

Approved (= congratulations and welcome to the wonderful world of Hong Kong residency).

Application closed (= your application has been approved and you’ve already collected your visa label OR  you’ve been refused – for one reason or another – but we haven’t got around to informing you yet).

Of course, this is about all you might expect of this process. It is the government after all.

But given that approvals tend to be faxed out the same day they are finalised, the only 2 things you can expect to learn from the system is that ImmD are still working on the file (which you already knew anyway) or that a visa is not coming your way after all (a bit of shock, no doubt – a bit like learning a loved one has died in a ski-ing accident when you turn on the news).

In fact, this post was prompted by an email exchange I had with a visitor to this Blog just last weekend.


“I have checked the visa status. Previously it showed as “In progress”. Now it is showing as “Application closed”. Can you tell me what does it mean? Please respond to it ASAP.”


It means the case is either cancelled by ImmD due to lack of response on the part of the applicant, or it has been refused. It does not mean it is approved (unless you have already collected your visa label but in that case you wouldn’t be posing this question of course…).


“I have applied for a Hong Kong long term business visa but it was refused. Can I reapply for the same as it is very important for me to travel. My company is applying on behalf of me where I am going to be working.”


You need to apply for a Reconsideration. More information here. Good luck in your appeal.


This happened on a Saturday so this poor soul had his weekend ruined by the system.

Of course, he was destined to learn the outcome one way or t’other but you can’t but help conclude from the way that the online status check system is designed that the rationale for this ‘service’ is just to keep applicants from calling their Case Officers to find out if there’s any progress on their cases.

In fact, we hardly ever use the online status update service.

It’s barely any use at all and not worth the time it takes to log-in.

More Stuff You May Find Interesting

Getting a working visa is just a matter of filling in the forms – right?

The Hong Kong Immigration Department are out to refuse – not approve – visa applications (aren’t they?)

The Hong Kong Immigration Department official video – 10 minutes of ‘why bother’?

The Hong Kong Immigration Department – what an efficient organisation they really are!

The 10 key reasons why foreigners seek to live and work in Hong Kong

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Apr 2019

Must Read: True Story of a Deluded Foreign National Trying to Sue His Way to a Hong Kong Employment Visa

Posted by / in Musing, Refusals & Appeals, Visitor Visas / 13 responses

First Published August 27, 2012

Note: I am presently fully engaged on the launch of Hong Kong Visa Sherpa so time’s a bit tight to publish new content on this website for the moment. Consequently I am surfacing some interesting posts from down the years, giving them a lick of paint and showing them the light of day again!

Sue his way to a Hong Kong employment visa?

It is a very rare occasion indeed that private court hearings see the light of day and it tickles me pink that Mr Justice Lam allowed his ‘in Chambers’ decision to be published, so it can be read by anyone generally.

In case you’re not too taken with reading legal judgments, this is the plot from an immigration situation that unfolded in Hong Kong in February of this year:

1. A US national flies from Sydney to Hong Kong en route to London.

2. After touching down in Hong Kong he changed his mind and decided he wanted to fly to Paris instead.

3. The airline wanted more money for the route change, and the man didn’t want to pay.

4. In light of this he passed through immigration at CLK as a visitor and determined he was now ‘stranded’, and reckoned he was incapable of feeding and accomodating himself.

5. He then emailed the Chief Executive, the Secretary for Justice and the Hong Kong Immigration Department claiming he was being held in Hong Kong against his will by the denial of his right to take up employment as a visitor as he wanted to work to obtain shelter and food.

6. It was, he contended, impossible for him to be a ‘visitor’ in these circumstances as he couldn’t leave and his treatment amount to ‘torture’ and thus a breach of the Torture Convention.

7. His legal claim was that he should be given permission to work in order to support himself.

8. The HKID wrote to him and told he needed to make an application for an employment visa  under the terms of the General Employment Policy (just like everyone else).

9. In the meantime, he sought the Court’s intervention to judicially review the decisions leading to his predicament, but didn’t want to pay the (modest)fees for this and demanded (and received) an urgent hearing in the judge’s chambers to try to present his case.

10. The judge kicked him into touch post haste!.

You couldn’t make this stuff up!

You can read the complete 2 page judgement here.

More Stuff You May Find Interesting or Useful 

STOP PRESS!! Hitler’s HKSAR passport application has been refused

The Hong Kong Visa Handbook – now available in good book stores everywhere!

Hong Kong employment visa – when all else failed we appealed to the Chief Executive – and won!

Should you ever get married just for Hong Kong visa purposes?

Paying for visa help? The Who’s Who of the Hong Kong immigration services industry

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Apr 2019

The Impact of Brain Drain on Hong Kong and Resulting Immigration Policy Development

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Investment Visas, Musing, Special Programmes / 5 responses

First Published On May 25, 2012

The Impact of Brain Drain on Hong Kong: the term “brain drain” first appeared in 1957 in a novel called Atlas Shrugged and the term refers to the loss of skilled researchers, analysts, the accomplished and the talented – for political, industrial and social reasons.

It’s currently frequently utilized as a dramatized synonym for loss and could be outlined as “the world transfer of resources in the shape of human capital” and “the loss of abilities or human capital to society or to the country from which migration takes place“.

Brain drain appeared in Hong Kong in 1987 when a major wave of emigration was seen experienced due to the uncertainties surrounding Hong Kong’s future in light of the 1997 hand back to China. The trend endured in the following decade thanks to the concerns of some HK residents, particularly those educated and professionally talented, about the political future under Mainland Chinese sovereignty and the enlarging immigration opportunities to be had in the more well-liked destination nations.

An annual average of 55,000 émigrés left Hong Kong between 1989 and 1995. This resulting outflow of talent impacted on the economy of Hong Kong in four discrete ways:

Loss of Efficiency

In order to compensate for the lack of professionally trained employees due to their emigration, junior staff were promoted ‘beyond their station’ to take up their vacancies. As such junior staff had neither adequate coaching nor experience for these higher level positions, the standard of service and operational effectiveness were significantly negatively impacted.

Productivity of Subordinates

The exit of the very skilled influenced the output of their subordinates due to the lack of their supervision. The economy so suffered an indirect loss of output.

Loss of Human Capital

Émigrés were often highly educated, had received significant job related training and were well-experienced in their work having typically been engaged with their employers or within their professionals since the end of their formal education. Their exit represented a great loss of human capital to Hong Kong’s economy.

Outflow of Capital

Most émigrés left Hong Kong with their wealth. Depending on their destination of choice, quite a number of them had to commit significant sums of capital in their new countries in order to qualify for immigration overseas.

To address the issues caused by brain drain in the 1980s and 1990s, the government of Hong Kong has taken concrete measures in the development and implementation of immigration policy.

These initiatives including retention, return migration, replacement and retraining. Among those measures, replacement was a comparatively simple and acceptable way to fill the vacancies of the émigrés. Aside from the swift growth of tertiary educational opportunities, the HKSAR Government has relaxed its limitations on the importing of professionally trained employees, particularly those from the Mainland, to fill manpower openings.

Out of the phenomenon of Brain Drain emerged the Admission of Mainland Talents and Professionals Scheme, the Quality Migrants Admission Scheme, the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates and the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme. In the meantime, the private sector has responded aggressively to the lack suitable talent caused by emigration by employing more expatriates under the General Employment Policy.

More Stuff You Might Find Interesting or Useful

If I didn’t graduate from university will it stop me from getting a Hong Kong employment visa?

Hitler’s HKSAR passport application has been refused

How to stop worrying about your Hong Kong visa and start applying

Why internet forums are a cr@p source of Hong Kong visa and immigration advice

What are you really buying from a Hong Kong immigration consultant?

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Apr 2019

Eligibility Criteria for the Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa Scheme

Posted by / in Musing, Special Programmes / 52 responses

Image: dontstopliving.net

The Hong Kong working holiday visa programme first came into play in April 2001 and is meant to aid cultural and education exchanges between HK and those nations who take part on a bi-lateral basis.

Participants in the Hong Kong Working Holiday Scheme are not permitted to engage in permanent employment and should not work for the same employer for more than six months (for participants from the Republic of Korea) or three months (for participants from Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand) during their visit in the HKSAR.

Participants from Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand may also enrol in study or training course(s) during their time under the programme.

The Scheme permits younger people (between 18 and 30) to make an application for a Working Holiday Visa for Hong Kong which enables them to remain in the HKSAR for a maximum vacation period of one year. During their stay, the Working Holiday Visa holder can take up short term work for a period of less than 3 months with any one employer and can study for a fixed duration.

The tradition of the Scheme works to permit a lengthened vacation type experience of working, living and also, the chance of studying in HK for an unqualified maximum period of one year but the Scheme shouldn’t be viewed as an alternative choice to a work visa.

Extensions outside the twelve months aren’t available and an applicant may only receive one Working Holiday Visa during the life of the Scheme.

The overall objective of the Scheme is to offer a valuable opportunity for younger people to broaden their horizons and the programme is subject to a maximum quota of visas to be issued each year.

Countries that have bilateral Working Holiday Scheme agreement with the HKSAR (as at 1 January 2019)

  • Australia (annual quota = 5000)
  • Austria (annual quota = 100)
  • Canada (annual quota = 200)
  • France (annual quota = 750)
  • Germany (annual quota = 300)
  • Hungary (annual quota = 200)
  • Ireland (annual quota = 200)
  • Japan (annual quota = 1500)
  • Korea (Republic of) (annual quota = 1000)
  • Netherlands (annual quota = 100)
  • New Zealand (annual quota = 400)
  • Sweden (annual quota = 500)
  • United Kingdom (annual quota = 1000)

Temporary employment

  • Australian citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than three months
  • Austrian citizens – not allowed to work for more than six months
  • British citizens – not allowed to work for more than 12 months
  • Canadian citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than three months
  • Dutch citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than six months
  • French citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than six months
  • German citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than three months
  • Hungarian citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than six months
  • Irish citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than three months
  • Japanese citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than six months
  • Korean citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than six months
  • New Zealand citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than three months
  • Swedish citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than six months

Applications are selected on a first-come-first-served basis. Processing of applications takes about 3 weeks.

Conditions for successful application include:

* You must hold a valid national passport issued by the participating country and be ordinarily residing in that participating country.

* Your primary intention is to holiday in Hong Kong.

* You must be aged between 18 and 30.

* You must be able to show financial proof of having enough funds to maintain yourself during the stay in Hong Kong. (e.g. bank statement, saving accounts passbooks, and the like).

* You must have a return air ticket or financial proof of having sufficient funds to purchase one home.

* You must hold medical and comprehensive hospitalisation and liability insurance to cover your time in the HKSAR – certain nationalities: see here.

* The process is by way of direct application in Hong Kong via a local representative or direct to the HKID via mail.

* Applications can also be submitted via the network of Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in the participating countries.

More Stuff You May Find Useful or Interesting

Newcomers guide to securing a Hong Kong employment visa

Is there a base salary requirement for an approvable Hong Kong employment visa?

If I didn’t graduate from university will it stop me from getting a Hong Kong employment visa?

But Stephen, how do you make any money when you give all of your Hong Kong visa and immigration expertise away for free?

100% Hong Kong visa application success rate? Take it all with a grain of salt

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Apr 2019

Hong Kong Employment Visa Self-Sponsorship – the Reality for Entrepreneurs Masquerading as Employees

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Investment Visas, Musing / 4 responses

First Published May 1, 2012

There really is no such thing as visa self-sponsorship if you are an entrepreneur seeking permissions to join in your own business in Hong Kong. You either work for an independent third party employer, or you are working for yourself (or possibly in partnership with one or 2 others).

Let’s assume you make an application on the basis you’re an employee but really you’re an entrepreneur in disguise.

If your employer’s business has been established for less than 2 years and has not successfully sponsored a foreign national’s employment visa before, ImmD will apply 2 specific tests to your application.

First, and foremost, they will apply the employment visa approvability test looking at the employee-applicant seeking to understand if he or she possesses special skills, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong.

In a new company situation (less than 1 year old) they will also look to the bona fides of the proposed sponsoring employer and apply the essence of the business investment visa approvability test  too – namely, is this business in a position to make (or is actually making) a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong?

You see, ImmD have to be satisfied that a proposed employer is actually a suitable sponsor: it is not sufficient that the company is properly incorporated and registered to carry on a business. They want to be satisfied that immigration policy is being properly implemented so with a new business situation, the Hong Kong ID will look into every nook and cranny to ensure that it is so the case.

It is for this reason that it is churlish to expect that newcomers to Hong Kong can simply incorporate a company and then seek to employ themselves in it. No matter how you disguise the actuality of your self-employment, the Immigration Department will always apply the much tougher investment visa approvability test. They do this in 2 ways:

(1)    When the company is newly established, as discussed above, and

(2)    When they see that you are a shareholder in the business (even though you have tried to mask it with nominees).

So, if you’re an entrepreneur, it’s the investment visa for you, not an employment visa. Dressing up as an employee will only make your application take longer to finalize, which means more uncertainly before case finalization and greater frustration as ImmD peel back the layers on the ‘employee-not-entrepreneur’ edifice you have tried to create.

More Stuff You May Find Useful or Interesting

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I have a socially advantageous yet modestly capitalised business plan – can I get an investment visa for Hong Kong?

What does it take to get a Hong Kong investment visa approved?

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