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I Run an Internet Company Based Out of Hong Kong But Choose to Spend Most of My Time Away – Can I Get Permanent Residency in Hong Kong After 7 Years?

July 9th, 2016

Posted by / in Long Stay & PR, Your Question Answered / 1 response


 

The modern, connected economy throws up myriad ways for people to organize their lives and business affairs and, as can be seen from this great question, how might ImmD respond to an application for the Right of Abode where an internet entrepreneur bases himself here with his family but they choose to spend a considerable amount of time elsewhere?

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QUESTION

Hi Stephen – I just stumbled across your website and found it to be quite informative, especially regarding the Hong Kong Right of Abode Application – Arguing Away Missing Periods of Residence.

It seems to fit my facts quite similarly.

My wife and I first arrived here in April of 2011. I was on a working visa but in some ways it was similar to an investor visa. I have always been an online internet entrepreneur, opening, running and closing dozens of online businesses. They have always been run from an offshore “haven” location where essentially there is no need to maintain books or file annual tax returns.

As my citizenships don’t require me to pay taxes on worldwide income and as I had been essentially a resident of nowhere, basically a perpetual tourist for the past many years, I haven’t really had to settle down in any way.

So, in early 2011, upon hearing from me that I wanted to move to and settle into Hong Kong, my lawyer arranged for my offshore company to buy a defunct Hong Kong company and then have that Hong Kong company sponsor me for an employment based visa in Hong Kong.

That all seemed to work quite smoothly and I was in HK in just a few months from start to finish.

Since arriving in Hong Kong with my non-Hong Kong wife in early 2011, we have recently had a baby. The problem is that we like Hong Kong and have made it our primary home, renting a nice flat, sponsoring a live-in DH, moved our bank accounts here, receive all of our mail here, pay our salaries annual taxes here, I own the business here, pay its fees, rent an office, pay the business profits taxes, etc., etc. – basically spend a lot of money in Hong Kong for all of these things to put up the appearance of being a full-time resident.

But, we really don’t like spending all of our time in Hong Kong. We have homes in several other countries, whether our own or family homes, and I really don’t need to be in any one location in Hong Kong or anywhere to run my business affairs.

Until our children are required to be in school for 8-9 months of the year, I’d prefer to keep traveling.

My work is all done via laptop and cell phone. Arguably I could say that some of this travel is necessary for work, as I do meet or host clients from time to time, but maybe 1/3 at the very most and I don’t keep receipts or claim them as business expenses. 

The only employees of the Hong Kong subsidiary are me and two admins, and they really only take care of Hong Kong affairs and little else. We do like spending some time in Hong Kong, maybe a few months per year in total, but spend the rest of our time on holiday, as much as 9-10 months of the year. I hope to continue this pattern until we have reached the 7 year mark in early 2018, at which time I’d like to apply for and hopefully receive our permanent residency.

And, despite what may seem like lack of ties to Hong Kong, we have by far much more attachments to Hong Kong than anywhere else in the world  , though my wife and I are each dual nationals of two different countries (4 passports between the both of us) so we certainly would call Hong Kong home above all else.

Would this pattern jeopardize our permanent residency application? It would be precisely at this time, when 7 years will have been reached that we’ll finally be forced to settled down and set our oldest child into primary school and we would plan to do so in Hong Kong.

I do want to ultimately obtain PR status, but also want to spend most of my time until that time traveling abroad. I’d like to find out now rather than later, for if I am wasting my time with this and there is a chance my PR application would be rejected, I’d just as well give up the HK office, the HK business, the 2 admins, the rented flat, the DH, basically all of it, move everything back offshore and rent a suite at the four seasons for the 2 months of the year that I might actually be in Hong Kong, for it would be a LOT cheaper.

So, am I wasting my money continuing this charade for many more years or will it all work out in the end as long as I maintain all of the things that tie us to Hong Kong?

So, can I get Permanent Residency in Hong Kong?

First Published in 2013

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Work in Hong Kong for 5 years – leave for 2 – will I lose my continuous residence for PR purposes?

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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.

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