Something quite amazing happened earlier this week.
Here follows the story…
We submitted a change of category application for a current Hong Kong foreign national resident (sponsored employment to business investment) via the residents section on the 5th floor of Immigration Tower on February 6th.
We did what we normally do, the client was well prepared and we had a good first set of documents to get the ball rolling.
On February 22nd (last Friday) we received in the mail a first request for further and better particulars dated February 20th.
We communicated with the client over the weekend and on Tuesday this week (February 26th), at 11:30 am, we filed the complete 2nd submission.
At 5:10 pm the same day (before we had even been able to advise the client that the 2nd submission had been completed) we received the approval fax from Immigration Tower.
I’d like for us to be able to claim credit for this but the plain truth is that the Immigration Officers of the 5/F residents section are just absolutely cooking with gas at the moment.
I’ve been advising current residents to expect a 6-8 week processing time (which in of itself is really quite good for an investment visa application) but it has incrementally been getting quicker in any event over the last few months.
But 20 days from start to finish?
Approval a few short hours just after a 2nd submission?
Perhaps it’s question of resourcing. I don’t know.
On the other hand, the guys on the 24/F of Immigration Tower (where the non residents’ applications for investment visas are processed) are facing a significant backlog of cases to be finalized and typical case completion times are getting on to 4 months as a minimum right now.
In my ‘around the houses’ brief exchanges with Immigration Officers on the upper floors of ImmD HQ in Wanchai they are being sheepishly apologetic that cases are taking as long as they are to complete.
They say they are exceptionally busy. And I believe them.
So are we.
This is not to have a go at them on the 24/F, not at all.
Quite the opposite in fact.
If you’ve ever been up there you’ll know that it’s generally a quiet place (no madding hordes of foreigners waiting anxiously for news of whether they are in or out, as is the case down on the 5th-7th floors) and consequently the tone and demeanour of the section is pleasant, measured and not at all frantic.
This, I feel, permeates through to the service-user experience and for me its always a pleasure to do my business on the 24/F.
But for non-resident applicants waiting for their investment visa approvals, patience is very much the virtue of the moment.
So, apply early.
If you’re not presently resident in Hong Kong and are looking for a visa to join in or establish a business here, it’s going to take quite a while before you’re in possession of your golden ticket.