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Do You Need to Have Been Physically Present in Hong Kong for a Full Seven Years (i.e 2555 Days All Told) in Order to Qualify for Hong Kong Permanent Residency?

December 27th, 2017

Posted by / in Long Stay & PR, Your Question Answered / 15 responses


Sometimes even the big name publications can get their facts (and law) wrong… do you need to have been physically present in Hong Kong for a full seven years (i.e 2555 days all told) in order to qualify for Hong Kong permanent residency?



Dear Stephen,

The Wall Street Journal guide to HK states (here: ), concerning the application for the right of abode, that “foreign nationals need to have stayed in Hong Kong for a continuous seven years.

If one traveled for a month outside Hong Kong within a seven-year period, then he or she needs to have resided in Hong Kong for at least seven years and one month.”

Is that last sentence accurate?

A related question:

In some sources, I have read that any continuous absences from Hong Kong of over 6 months need to be listed (and explained) in the application.

Some sources say that whenever one is absent more than 6 months within a year (whether continuous or not), this has to be listed (and explained).

Could you clarify?

 Thanks so much.

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The Hong Kong Visa Geeza (a.k.a Stephen Barnes) is a co-founder of the Hong Kong Visa Centre and author of the Hong Kong Visa Handbook. A law graduate of the London School of Economics, Stephen has been practicing Hong Kong immigration since 1993 and is widely acknowledged as the leading authority on business immigration matters here for the last 24 years.

  • Angie

    6 Apr 2019 am30 11:56am

    I am a univ student of overseas nationality. I am planning to work in HK after graduation, so I’m seeking for the way to get PR. I have several questions regarding PR application.

    1) Is the explanation (or excuse) for the period of absence during student status necessary?

    2) Second is, if it is needed, “gap year approved by the university” and “exchange program abroad”, would these be accounted?

    In my case, I had an year-long gap year (of course got the approval from school) and had internships in my home country. And now, I am going for exchange in the coming semester. So in total, I wouldn’t be physically present in HK for 1.5 year before my graduation. My student visa would be valid for 5.5 years, but 1.5 would be empty in the middle.

    3) So summing up 2 questions and my situation, would this 1.5 years would be counted for my PR application in the future (at the time I spend 7 years in HK)? If that’s the case, I should spend 8.5 years in HK to apply for PR right?

    ++) What I heard is that as long as the student visa is expired in the middle, there is no problem. Is this right?

    Thank you.

    • The Visa Geeza

      8 Apr 2019 pm30 5:00pm

      Sorry – this isn’t a question. It’s proxy advice and way too complicated to get into via this public facing website.

  • Matrix

    2 Jan 2019 am31 11:59am

    Hi Stephen,
    I have an employment visa to take me through to 7 years but now I’m unemployed for 3 months now due to redundancy in my previous compsny and still looking new job. My visa is untill July 2020 and I will turn 7 years here in hk on Nov 2019. I am planning to apply for PR ahead of time since most of the employer here is looking for PR status abd doesn’t want sponsorship. What is my chance of getting it approve?

    • The Visa Geeza

      3 Jan 2019 am31 9:28am

      If you apply for PR more than 28 days before your 7 year anniversary ImmD will just send the papers back to you.

      • Peachy Agregado

        5 Apr 2019 pm30 4:39pm

        When is the earliest time possible to apply for PR?

        • The Visa Geeza

          8 Apr 2019 pm30 5:01pm

          28 days before the 7 year anniversary BUT you must be physically present in HK on the day you submit and also on the 7 year anniversary day.

  • Pedram

    26 Nov 2018 pm30 11:00pm

    Hi Stephen!
    You have answered my question regarding PR application, but I wanna make sure. I will be out of HK for a period of 6 months as an exchange student. It means that my student visa is still valid and I ll be receiving my salary (and paying tax). In that case, 1) Do I have to stay in Hk for a period of 7 years and 6 months or is it just & years? 2) I can arrange my trip to be 5 months and 20 days; does it help to ease the process of my PR application? Does it make any difference being outside for 6 months or 5 months?

    • The Visa Geeza

      28 Nov 2018 am30 10:58am

      This is getting into the land of proxy advice which I am uncomfortable giving. What do you mean by this?

      >>It means that my student visa is still valid and I ll be receiving my salary (and paying tax).>>

      Under a Hong Kong student visa employment is not permitted except for certain on-campus work or off campus work during summer holidays.

      • P

        1 Dec 2018 pm31 3:27pm

        Hi Stephan!
        By that, I mean the studentship paid by university! Just like all students in HK. However, my question is if I go for an exchange program during my study (with permission of school), how long can I be far from HK to be eligible for PR application? Does it really make any difference in my future application if I stay 6 months + 1 day instead of 6 months?

        • The Visa Geeza

          3 Dec 2018 am31 10:49am

          6 months and 1 day is not the issue. The key thing is that you maintain your student visa back to back at all times (NO GAPS ALLOWED) and the nature of your time away is manifestly temporary and that you return to back to HK immediately after the short time away for studies is complete.

  • Alfred

    17 Jan 2018 am31 7:31am

    Hi Stephen, thank you very much for your great advice.

    I’m sorry if this follow up questions sounds a bit silly but here it goes, what happens if long absences from Hong Kong are interrupted by short periods in Hong Kong, for example, away for 5 months, back for 2 week break, and then away again for another 5 months? Do you think I still need to list (and explain) those long stints away despite the fact they don’t exceed the 6 month limit? I hold an investment visa if it is relevant.

    • The Visa Geeza

      24 Jan 2018 am31 9:00am

      Yes, ImmD will certainly want to know what was happening in your life that took you away from Hong Kong all of that time to be certain that you did not abandon your continuity of ordinary or settled purpose for living in Hong Kong in all of those months away.

  • Victoria

    3 Jun 2017 am30 10:42am

    Hi Stephen!

    I think my question is not big enough to warrant a separate entry on your website.
    I have a friend that works for an orchestra and is issued with 10 months’ visas, with 2 months’ breaks each year. I find it very unusual because no one else I know has ever been on visas like that (including myself), but now my friend is starting to wonder if this kind of visa will entitle her to ROB/PR? She lives in Shenzhen but travels to Hong Kong for work almost every day. She;s been doing it for the last 5 years.


    • The Visa Geeza

      6 Jun 2017 am30 10:29am

      On the face of it, I doubt she would be able to successfully make a claim for ordinary residence in Hong Kong given that she actually lives in Shenzhen.


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