Until only just a few short years ago, it was nigh on impossible for foreign nationals studying for an undergraduate or post graduate degree at a university in Hong Kong to secure an employment visa upon their graduation.
However, since the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates came into effect in 2008, any student visa holder successfully graduating from their course, can now essentially walk straight into an employment visa without even needing a sponsor or an offer of an employment.
This prevails if you make the application to the Hong Kong ID within 6 months of graduation, as they deem these applicants ‘fresh graduates’ and the conversion from student to employment visa is almost akin to a rubber stamping exercise.
However, 12 months later once the first employment visa comes up for extension, the holder of such an employment visa needs to have a confirmed employment to be able to remain in Hong Kong under that status.
The situation is different for ex students who graduated more than 6 months ago, as they are called returning graduates.
The visa conditions for such returning graduates are more onerous than they are for fresh graduates but their applications are ‘favourably considered’ so long as they have a suitable job offer paying market rates from a suitable sponsor.
But for fresh graduates, the employment visa is a shoe in and many foreign nationals choose specifically to study in Hong Kong first simply to get direct access to permissions to work – and strategically the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local graduates has provided a fantastic additional pathway to getting approval to work in the HKSAR.