Hong Kong Visas Made Easy


Feb 2019

Has the Hong Kong Immigration Department Tightened Up On Applicants With Criminal Records Recently?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Family Visas, Investment Visas, Long Stay & PR, Special Programmes, Visitor Visas, Your Question Answered / No responses

The question of criminal records and how they impact on Hong Kong visa applications keeps cropping up…


Hi, I have previously lived in Hong Kong, once as a student so obviously held a student visa and then a couple of years later working there so had an employment visa.

I’m a Canadian citizen and have a criminal record for theft dating back almost 20 years to my youth! I have no criminal convictions since this time.

With my previous student/employment visas in Hong Kong I don’t even remember being asked if I had criminal convictions.

However, I plan on returning to Hong Kong later this year to work again and am slightly worried immigration may have tightened up and may refuse me on this basis.

Guess my question is, will I be asked about criminal convictions in Canada?

And if I am will it prevent me from being granted an employment visa?

Also, will the fact that I’ve previously lived in Hong Kong twice and held visas there mean they might go easier when granting another? 


Normally the Hong Kong Immigration Department undertake background checks for each applicant to ensure that there’s no known record of serious crime and most visa types in Hong Kong don’t actually require an applicant to make an expressed declaration as to their own personal status as regards to criminal record and their criminal record background.

And so, in the case of your application for employment visa on this occasion, it’s practice presently for the Immigration Department not to seek specific information about your criminal background or otherwise. And in this regard, I don’t think you’ve got anything to worry about.

Secondly, the fact that you have had trouble-free residence previously in Hong Kong, both as a student visa holder once before and also an employment visa holder once before suggests to me that your prior criminal record that notwithstanding, is not going to be an issue for you in relation to this particular application for an employment visa.

So, I wouldn’t be overly concerned about the chances of you being refused because of something that happened deep in your background, and that as I say, never mind that it has been dealt with previously by the Immigration Department to the extent that you’ve been granted resident visas twice before.

So, go ahead and make your application for an employment visa on this occasion, and I wouldn’t be too concerned about your past, which is long behind you coming back to haunt you on this occasion, and I wish you all good luck with your new residence in Hong Kong.

Okay, hope you found this useful!

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Feb 2019

How Do You Prove to the Hong Kong Immigration Department That You Have Tried to Recruit Locally?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Your Question Answered / No responses


Excellent question earlier this week. Great opportunity to slay a few sacred cows.


Hi, one of the requirements for the work visa application is a proof of genuine vacancy. What if a sponsoring company doesn’t do job ads? What can he present? He does recruit locally via his network since he is just a small company. Appreciate your inputs.


It’s important to understand that not every job that has a foreign national candidate for it and a consideration of employment visa hanging off it, not every local job needs to have a local worker for it.

It just depends on all the circumstances of the case. There will be circumstances where you can visit the nature of the position and the circumstances that give rise to that foreign national needed to do that work. It becomes very self-evident that no one will exercise what needs to be undertaken. But how it works is if you are asked by the Immigration Department for proof of a local recruitment exercise, you have to show it. That is if you have conducted it, you need to show that you’ve done it. If you’ve conducted it unsuccessfully, you have an opportunity to explain why, supplying proof, how have you gone about the recruitment exercise and then just explaining how that process works.

If you haven’t conducted it, then you have to justify your application from the perspective that you’re the right person for the job. And either way, the sophistication and consideration exercise really gates the question and the mechanics of the recruitment process, to my way of thinking it may really be a bit hard there’s more important things going here.

So you have to be absolutely certain that no local can do a job before you make a claim that no one locally can reasonably be expected to do that job and that’s where all your focus should lie.

Ok, I hope this helps.

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Feb 2019

Can I Come to Install Equipment in Hong Kong Without an Employment Visa?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Visitor Visas, Your Question Answered / No responses

Permitted activity under the Visitor visa category seems to be something of a grey area and in the final analysis it all boils down to the attitude of the Immigration Department for a breach of conditions of stay. However, some activities are self-evidently ‘employment‘ in nature and the answer to this questions addresses it squarely.



I work for a German company involved in the pharmaceuticals industry and I am traveling to Hong Kong for work related reasons (installing equipment) and wondering if I require a work visa?

Every place I look, it says ‘to take up employment’. If I work for a German company, do I need a visa to do business with another company there? Such as have a meeting? I will only be there for one week.”


This is a commonly asked question in actual fact because there seems to be something of a gray area between what is permitted activity and non-permitted activity under the visitor visa.

The law works in effect that if you come into Hong Kong to take up or join in any employment whether being paid or unpaid you need to secure the consent of the director of immigration in advance and that translates itself into an employment visa application.

And in my experience if for example, you were to present yourself at the airport seeking admission as a visitor and you told the officer that you were coming to “install equipment”, I believe the immigration officer will take you to task for that and quite possibly deny you entry on the basis that you didn’t have the requisite immigration permissions to engage in that activity.

There is a world of difference, however, between being compliant at law and non-compliant but being practically able to get away with things. A, because it’s a very short-term deployment and B, you may well be sort of hidden away in the depths of some commercial building somewhere out of sight of prying eyes and being practically able to sort of get on with the things that you need to do in order to discharge your duties as they were but none of that will of course would alleviate the issue of you having the incorrect immigration status to do that.

So under the visitor visa, engaging in business meetings or speaking at conferences and making sales calls, concluding contracts, fact-finding missions, participating in product orientation, all of this is primitive activity but in my experience if you are discharging your employment duties in Hong Kong for your overseas employer and then an employment visa will be needed and it seems to me that this joint discharging your employment duties in this situation will definitely cover installing equipment.

So that’s the bad news. The good news is that such visas are readily available and quite quickly issued. Of course, it’s still a process to be followed but in my experience installing equipment for sure requires an employment visa if you are to be compliant.


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Feb 2019

Will My Hong Kong Employment Visa be Compromised If I Leave My Job Due to Intolerable Working Conditions?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Your Question Answered / No responses

Should you be worried that your employment visa status in Hong Kong might be undermined if you choose to leave the employ of an unsavoury employer?


Hello, my current employer and visa sponsor is a small business, and my working conditions are intolerable – twice the amount of hours than stated on the contract, poor pay, fines for sick days off and unexplained additional fines deducted from my salary without notice nor explanation, plus late payment of salary.

I have been with them for seven months and paid to get here myself.

They have also asked me to lie to the inland revenue to say my contract started two months after it did – because it took me two months to get a free day to go to Macau and activate my visa.

It’s all very shabby.

Three other similar staff have ‘left in the night’ because there is a HK$25,000 fee to leave the contract (plus work two months unpaid, and pay another undisclosed fee for leaving without serving two months notice).

I have another company who will sponsor me and I would like to know if I can release my sponsorship with my present employer myself, or do they have the power to refuse the release and transfer of my visa to another company?

Can they stop me working anywhere else if I walk?

I can not continue working in these conditions, but I do not want to leave Hong Kong and I have other employers waiting.

Am I trapped please?

Thank you very much in advance for any advice you can give.


Not being an employment lawyer I can’t offer any comment as to your remedies for the seemingly intolerable situation you find yourself in.

As regards your employment contract with your current employer I suggest that you contact the Labor Department for some provisional information on how to deal with the problems that you’re facing in that employment.

Or indeed obviously contact an employment lawyer. However, in so far as immigration goes you’re on the pretty much safe ground in so far as if you determine for one reason or another that you wish to cease working for your current employer and you wish to make an application to take up employment with a new employer, then that’s all perfectly doable.

The Immigration Department doesn’t hold you to any particular employer and the employment visa is personable to you. It doesn’t accrue to the employer so your current employer has no means of in a sense holding a gun to your head as regards your ability to stay in Hong Kong due to the fact that you no longer want to work in those intolerable working conditions.

As part and parcel of any employment visa change of sponsorship application for that’s what it would be, you’d have to submit a copy of your resignation letter or possibly a document in writing from your current employer indicating when your exact final date of employment while so that the Immigration Department can demarcate your old employment through to your new employment and adjust the sponsorship of your visa accordingly.

As long as you’re moving from one employment type to a similar employment type that is it’s like for like employment and that the minimum salary and compensation levels are being met under the general employment policy – give or take about sixteen thousand Hong Kong dollars a month. And of course, your new employer, proposed new employer is deemed by the Immigration Department to be a suitable and credible sponsor.

Then in those circumstances, your immigration status should be readily adjustable without too much of a do.

So, no you and you’re not locked into this particular employer and if you want to leave, do so. Address whatever problems you’ve got from the contract perspective through the use of the proper channels. But in so far as immigration goes you’ll be more than capable of making that adjustment if for immigration sponsorship without too many problems at all.

Okay, good luck with it all and I hope you found this useful.

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Jan 2019

What’s the difference between Unconditional Stay and Permanent Residence in Hong Kong?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Your Question Answered / No responses

This question comes up all the time (and is actually answered on the home page of our Blog) but I am grateful for the opportunity to revisit it again now…


Hi, I’m currently working in Hong Kong with a valid working visa but have been offered a job with another company in Hong Kong.

My work visa expires in July and I must give one month’s notice with my current employer.

 How does it work in terms of obtaining a new work visa for the new employer– do I have to resubmit all of my uni/school certificates etc as I did the first time round?

Do I need to quit my current job and then apply for the new company or can the new company apply for me whilst I’m still working at my current job?

I am worried that if I quit my first job that my 2nd visa will get rejected and then I will be jobless.

Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated, thank you! 


When you secure an employment visa in Hong Kong you are lawfully employable by the employer, which has successfully sponsored an employment visa for you.

Once you stop working for that sponsoring employer in so far as you are continuing employment visa permissions go, in essence, all bets are off until you make an application to the Immigration Department to change your sponsorship from your old employer through to the proposed new employer.

And in preparing for this application, you need to anticipate that it’s a process that’s very similar to the application that you underwent the first time in so far as getting the visa approved for the status that you’ve got right now. And in the Hong Kong visa handbook employment Visa section, I’ve set out the documentary requirements that govern these types of applications, whether it’s a new application or in fact, it’s a change of sponsorship application.

Now the way that the process works is that you go to the Immigration Department with your completely assembled bundle and you file your application to change your sponsorship, without at this point, if this is in fact the case, having stopped working for your present employer. And during the currency of your new employment visa application your current employer really shouldn’t be privy to what’s going on because Immigration Department certainly won’t correspond with your existing employer. All that will happen is that whilst the Immigration Department are considering your application, which by the way happens on the 5th floor resident section, not the 24th floor entry visa section, so on the fifth floor. So whilst the Immigration Department are considering your application, they will correspond with you directly and that they’ll raise any questions or requests for information or other requisitions that apply in the context of the application before you.

And in so far as the chances of approval go, you need to anticipate that as long as it’s a like-for-like employment, and as long as you are clearly a professional under the general employment policy and the new employer is justified in engaging your services as opposed to the services of a local person, then it’s reasonable to assume that you’re change of sponsorship application will be approved. Normally the Immigration Department respond positively to such applications.

Now the way it works once you’ve got nine tenths of the way through the application process, is that you’ll see that the Immigration Department will call for a document from you, that demarcates the date of last employment with your current employer, so that they can then, when they finalize your approval, set a line between your previous sponsorship and your new sponsorship. They will need a line in the sand, as it were, a date from which the new sponsorship obligations of your new employer will prevail and at the same time relinquishing your old employer, your past employer of their continuing sponsorship in relation to you. And it’s when the Immigration Department call for this document that you’ll get a sense that they are about to finalize your application positively. And at that stage, what you do is you submit your resignation and give a copy of the resignation documentation that sits between you and your current employer, which in turn will denote what your final date of employment is with that old employer and you submit copies of that documentation to the Immigration Department and they will then, as I say, be able to demarcate the old sponsorship from the new sponsorship.

Then, after you’ve been approved you should receive a letter from the Immigration Department stating when your new employment arrangement are going to commence from, that is your new sponsorship, employment visa sponsorship arrangements are going to commence from, inviting you down to go and process an extension to your current limit of stay because at the moment you have less than six months left on your current limit of stay. And these circumstances rather than put Immigration Department resources through, on the one hand, a change of sponsorship application and then a few weeks or months later because your current limiter says going to expire, put Immigration Department resources through a second application, in so far as giving you an extension to your current limit of stay. Usually the Immigration Department as I say, if you’ve got six months or less remaining on your current limit of stay, they normally endorse your passport at the same time as they give you the new approval and normally that 12 months limit starts from the expiry of your current limit of stay, which in this instance would be July.

So in effect, that’s how that process is handled and that’s how that process is managed and included on this post are a lot of other resources that I’ve dealt with challenges associated with the change of sponsorship application that you’re looking to accomplish.

And again, I refer you back to the employment visa section of the Hong Kong Visa Handbook where all the documents that you need, checklists, templates and all the rest of that good stuff that will apply in allowing you to go through that process, you can find them all there.

Just to remind you, because you’re an existing resident you would submit the application on the resident section on the fifth floor of Immigration Tower, not on the 24th floor, which is the entry Visa section, which is where applications for the very first time for the employment visas are considered.

Okay. I hope you found this useful.

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Jan 2019

How Easy is it to Secure A Work Visa Issued Under the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates on the Basis of Freelance Employment?

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Long Stay & PR, Musing, Special Programmes, Your Question Answered / No responses

Can you realistically expect to work for yourself if your employment permissions have been granted under IANG?


Hi Stephen, thanks a lot for answering the questions on this website.

I must say that all the information on visageeza.com is of immense value.

I would like to pose a question regarding the Immigration Arrangement for Non-local Graduates (“IANG”) visa renewal.

Currently I am on an IANG visa which has been sponsored by my current employer.

I would like to know that shortly after the IANG visa has been granted (say few days or weeks after the approval), can I change my job or leave my job for whatever reason and start my own freelance consulting?

Is it really something permissible in the eyes of the immigration?

My second question is linked with my first one.

Let’s say if I leave my job and after leaving my job I cross the seven year mark, what impact would this have on my Right of Abode application?

I would really appreciate your help on this matter.

Thanks a lot.


To maintain your immigration status under the Immigration arrangements for non-local graduates, each time you present yourself for an extension of stay you need to have a valid employer, and you need to be able to demonstrate to the Immigration Department that you’re being paid a compensation that’s broadly commensurate with market rates and that you are engaged in work that related in some way to your education and background and moreover the sponsoring employer needs to be suitable and credible all things considered.

So, you can essentially get yourself an extension on the immigration arrangements for non-local graduate’s sponsored by a current employer, and then you could seize working for that current employer and then conceptually you could start to engage in your own freelance activities.

Whether or not the Immigration Department would deem your freelance activities to be sufficiently suitable at the time that your next IANG application came up for consideration is another matter again because Immigration Department in those circumstances expect you to have established a sizable business, which for all practical purposes means you need to pass the approvability test to show that you can make a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong, and in that regard I would suggest that you read the information on our websites about the business investment visa, because it’s no small challenge to be able to secure an ongoing sponsorship in Hong Kong on the basis of your own in a sense freelance activities.

So that answers the 1st part of your question and in so far as the 2nd part of your question goes, let’s set the scene for example, let’s say that you’ve been here under continuous residence visa permissions for 6 and a half years, and that your current IANG visa has just recently been extended and you’ve secured a one year limit of Stay, which is then going to take you conceptually to a full 7 and a half years’ worth of continuous ordinary residence in Hong Kong holding back to back residence visas throughout all of this time.

So, at the point of 7 years of course you can make your application for the right of abode, and at that point you have to show that you have been continuously and ordinarily resident in Hong Kong for those 7 years. There is no inquiry as to what you’re doing in relation to your existing employment. The Immigration Department would want to see that you do have a valid period of stay under employment status and they will typically not look for confirmation as to how you’re gainfully spending your time under your 12 months of immigration arrangement for non-local graduates. Therefore conceptually, it might be that you can get to 7 years by having extended your immigration arrangements for non-local graduates visa, and then gone off from freelance a few months before making the right of abode application, because at the time that you get your right to abode application approved, all conditions are lifted as to your continuing residence in Hong Kong, you would then typically not be called to account for any time that you spent under immigration arrangements for local graduates while you were freelancing as such.

So, that’s the, that’s the upshot of it and I hope you found it useful.

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Jan 2019

How to Swap a Hong Kong Dependant Visa for a Hong Kong Work Visa – From 39,000 Feet (Whiteboard Animation)

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Musing, Sherpa / No responses

How to swap a Hong Kong dependant visa for a Hong Kong work visa – from 39,000 feet! We are presently building the website for our new corporate services proposition, Hong Kong Visa Sherpa.

You can download an infographic of this video content here.

We are bringing a whole new line of content to help companies with more than 100 employees to do their cases by themselves without needing to pay for any professional help. This new website, to be launched shortly, will contain many new and interesting ways to help you answer your Hong Kong visa questions and help solve your immigration problems.

The Visa Sherpa website is a build in progress – check us out as we bring the product to life!

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