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Eligibility Criteria for the Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa Scheme

June 5th, 2012

Posted by / in Musing, Special Programmes / 35 responses



This 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.

Australia (annual quota = 5000)

Canada (annual quota = 200)

Germany (annual quota = 150)

Ireland (annual quota = 100)

Japan (annual quota = 250)

South Korea (annual quota = 200)

New Zealand (annual quota = 400)

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.

* 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.

Related Posts for Further Reading

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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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.

  • Bella

    12 Feb 2019 am28 6:54am

    Hi, How do you pay for the holiday working visa? and where do you post it to? Do you post it to the Embassy in Australia?

    • The Visa Geeza

      12 Feb 2019 am28 9:55am

      Send it directly to ImmD Tower in Wanchai.

  • Georgia

    11 Feb 2019 pm28 10:38pm

    I am applying for a Holiday Working Visa from the UK. Do you know how I can prove * You must hold medical and comprehensive hospitalisation and liability insurance to cover your time in the HKSAR? Has anyone used a company before?


    • The Visa Geeza

      12 Feb 2019 am28 9:55am

      Yes – you buy a policy and include that in your application bundle.

  • A Cousins

    15 Jan 2019 pm31 3:56pm

    I am from the UK (currently residing in Australia) and have recently applied for a Working Holiday Visa – I meet all the criteria and have sent the relevant documents etc.
    I’ve seen contradicting information regarding ‘processing times’, and also whether a notification/ acknowledgement of application being received is sent to the applicant – I would love to track the progress of my application.
    Is this something you’re able to shed some light on?
    Thanks in advance.

    • The Visa Geeza

      16 Jan 2019 am31 10:46am

      It will take c 3-4 weeks, sometimes a bit less time.

      Track your application? :

      • A C

        16 Jan 2019 pm31 7:21pm

        Thank you for your prompt response.
        I sent my application by post, and have received tracking confirmation that it was delivered over 1 week ago; however, I have not received an email or letter notification telling me that my application has been received or is currently being processed.
        Do you think this is something to worry about?
        Thanks in advance.

        • The Visa Geeza

          17 Jan 2019 am31 10:13am

          No. You might even get the approval letter before you receive the receipt.

          • Adam C

            17 Jan 2019 pm31 3:46pm

            Ok, great. Thank you!

  • Rachel

    20 Nov 2018 pm30 9:32pm

    Do I need to contain a outbound ticket (germany to Hong Kong) before applying?

    Is it an option at all to travel to hong kong (visa free) first and apply when I am in the city and stay for 1 year?

    • The Visa Geeza

      26 Nov 2018 am30 9:32am

      Best to apply for your WHV before you travel to HK.

  • Kato

    23 Mar 2018 pm31 1:43pm

    What qualifies as “proof of acceptance to hold” medical insurance when applying for this visa? Will a written letter promising to hold insurance during the visa period do? Obviously I do not want to buy the insurance until I know the visa is approved.


    • The Visa Geeza

      23 Mar 2018 pm31 2:03pm

      You need something more concrete – like a formal quote. However ImmD may or may not accept this. Suggest you buy a policy which you can settle in 12 monthly installments.

  • Janice

    3 Mar 2018 am31 8:12am

    Can you get a second working holiday visa?

    • The Visa Geeza

      6 Mar 2018 pm31 1:53pm

      Nope! One time only.

  • Yasmin Fletcher

    4 Jul 2017 am31 9:26am

    I know it says “Applications are selected on a first-come-first-served basis.”
    But is there any way of knowing when this starts for each year? Have I got more of a chance applying at the start of the year because thats when the doors open for the 1000people (UK) quota, or midway, later in the year?
    Any more info greatly appreciated

    • The Visa Geeza

      6 Jul 2017 am31 10:11am

      No – you just have to apply and see if there’s quota available at the time of the application submission

  • Billy

    31 Aug 2016 am31 11:51am

    if WHV candidate is limited to maximum 3 months per employer in Hong Kong, is it possible to work longer if different company name but same group? Heard there are Groups with many companies within (probably with same directors or owners), can the candidate work in the Group for over 3 months after changing employer company name?

    • The Visa Geeza

      4 Sep 2016 pm30 12:43pm

      You must work for separate legal entities. If they are owned by the same party that’s fine so long as the job is different each time.

  • Eimear

    2 Dec 2015 pm31 3:17pm

    Hi, I am in Hong Kong at the minute and want to apply for the WH visa but I’m not sure if applying in person is allowed or if you have to be in your country of residence when you apply?

    • The Visa Geeza

      4 Dec 2015 pm31 12:55pm

      Technically you should be in your country of residence when you apply however plenty of people are in HK when they apply and it doesn’t appear to be a preclusion if you are in Hong Kong on the date you submit your WHV application to ImmD.

  • Jonny Blair

    4 Aug 2015 am31 11:32am

    Good article and glad you referenced the use of my photo with a link to my site.
    Jonny Blair recently posted..Staying at the Dorsett Mong Kok Hotel, Kowloon, Hong KongMy Profile

    • The Visa Geeza

      4 Aug 2015 pm31 12:03pm

      Thanks Jonny. You’ll be sad to hear than Delaney’s in Wanchai is shutting down soon… sigh… there goes my favourite lunch place!

      • Tony Ryan

        17 Oct 2018 pm31 7:11pm

        TST Delaney’s is still going strong.

        Your article doesn’t mention UK. Does that mean uk citizens can’t get a working holiday visa?
        Tony Ryan recently posted..Apple Watch Series 4 unboxing and Series 1 ComparisonMy Profile

        • The Visa Geeza

          20 Oct 2018 am31 11:24am

          Yes UK Nationals can get a WHV. Countries that have bilateral Working Holiday Scheme agreement with the HKSAR (as at 1 January 2018)

          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) (the scheme is scheduled to come into effect on 1 January 2019)
          New Zealand (annual quota = 400)
          Sweden (annual quota = 500)
          United Kingdom (annual quota = 1000)


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