Hong Kong visa application ?

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How to get visa to Hong Kong?

Hong Kong visa is a permit issued to a foreigner by the Hong Kong visa authorities for entry into, exit from or transit through the Hong Kong territory.

Hong Kong visa can be applied by foreigners wishing to travel to the Embassy of Hong Kong or consulate.

Excerpted from the Hong Kong Career Guide:

Obtaining a Hong Kong work permit and visa is increasingly more difficult for foreigners in the face of increasing unemployment. Foreigners will require a special skill or knowledge to have a good chance of getting a visa for Hong Kong. It is almost impossible for low-skilled, non-skilled, or inexperienced workers to get a work permit or visa in this very competitive environment. A visa or entry permit is required to work, study, establish, or join in any business or to take up residence in the Hong Kong.

Types of Hong Kong Visa:

Point Scheme - NEW!
Company or Employee
Mainland Chinese
Spouse or Partner
Intern or Student
Money Investor
Permanent Resident

Other Non-Residen
Point Scheme - NEW!:
Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (Point-tested scheme with quota): establishing a business before Immigration will consider to further extend their visas.

If the QMAS immigrant cannot demonstrate the taking of any such steps, a one-year extension may be granted by Immigration at her discretion.

By the end of the first 36 months, the QMAS immigrants must demonstrate to Immigration that they have obtained gainful employment in a graduate/specialist/senior level job, or


The Government announced on 23rd February 2006 detailed operation of the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS).  The new scheme is opened to all Mainland and overseas professionals to settle in Hong Kong, and will be launched by June 2006.

Successful applicants will be allowed to bring along their dependant spouse and children under 18 to Hong Kong.  Dependants are allowed to work or study.

The scheme will have 1,000 quotas for the first year and quotas for subsequent years will be advised by a committee appointed by the Chief Executive.

The major difference between the QMAS and the existing employment visa is that prior employment arrangement is not required for QMAS applicants.  Once the applications have been approved, QMAS applicants can take up whatever employment or set up their own companies in Hong Kong.

With successful applications, Immigration will grant 1-year visas initially.  The immigrants have to demonstrate that they have taken steps to settle in Hong Kong by securing gainful employment or

by having established a business of a reasonable size here.  Otherwise Immigration may not extend their visas further.

The assessment will comprise two phases.  During phase one, applicants will be assessed based on a point test which incorporate factors such as age, academic/professional qualifications, working experience, language proficiency, family connections in Hong Kong, spouse's achievement, number of dependent children, achievement in a particular field, etc.  A minimum passing mark will be set.  

However, the following requirements must be met:

1. Age between 18 – 50.

2. Financially sound without public assistance of H.K.

3. Good character with no criminal records.

4. Proficient in Cantonese, Putoghua or English.

5. A Bachelor Degree.

Having met the above requirements and the minimum passing mark, applicants will be ranked according to the scores they are awarded.  High scoring applicants will be shortlisted to enter a selection pool (Phase Two) for further comparison.  Quota will be granted to the most meritorious applicants.

The detail marks allocation for each requirement of the point test system will be announced by the Department shortly.  Please stay tune with us for the QMAS launching day.

Company or Employee:

Investment Visa or Employment Visa?  If you would like to work in Hong Kong, you will need an investment or employment visa.  Both investment and employment visas belong to the category "Employment".  So, no matter which one you're applying, the final visa label or stamp will only say "Employment".

Investment Visa is for those who would like to set up their business in Hong Kong.  They are owners of the business and would like to station in Hong Kong to manage it.  You will need to proof your previous management experience and to submit a business plan.  Other information like personal financial proof and initial capital of the business are also required.  The key consideration for an investment visa application is the benefits to Hong Kong.  Therefore, the intention of creating local positions is a must.  Since an investment visa application differs in its own business model, Hong Kong Immigration Department never states the specific requirements for how many local staff should be employed, what is the initial capital required for a new company, or any expat-local staff ratio, ...etc.

Forming a company and have the business registration certificate ready is a pre-requisite for filing an investment visa application.  You will also need a Hong Kong permanent resident to act as a guarantor.


Employment Visa is for a foreign employee to work in Hong Kong.  The company is required to provide a fixed monthly salary to the employee.  Hong Kong Immigration Department will not consider pure commission basis salary, part-time or freelance employment for an employment visa application.  The position offered should be of a managerial or supervisory level.  The key consideration for an employment visa application is the relevant working experience and academic background of the applicant; meanwhile the employing company is required to proof that they cannot possibly find a local candidate to fill up such position.  A fresh university graduate is extremely difficult to apply for an employment visa.  Pure language skill or family ties are also not strong enough to justify for an application.

Another consideration for an employment visa application is the establishment of the employing company.  Generally speaking the longer the history and the larger in size of the employing company, the less questions will be asked about the company.  For a newly established company of less than 18 months operation, and employing less than 4 staff, immigration might even ask for a business plan (though applying only for an employment but not an investment visa), and also personal information of the business owners.

An employment visa application is not necessary easier to apply than an investment visa.  Generally people might take the meaning of "employment" or "investment" too literally and do not expect questions of an employment visa application similar to an investment one.  However, immigration officers have large extent of discretion on the documents required for each application.  They take a discretionary approach on their assessment between an employment and an investment visa application, rather than a literal one.

Mainland Chinese:

Mainland Chinese does not automatically qualify to apply for an Investment or Employment Visa to Hong Kong.  Mainland Chinese is required first to reside overseas (other than Hong Kong, Macau and Mainland China) for at least 12 months immediately before submission of an Investment or Employment Visa application.  Otherwise the investment or employment visa application will not be accepted.  Please refer to our section "Company or Employee" for details of an investment or employment visa application.

For those Mainland Chinese graduates who has been studying for degree level courses in any universities in Hong Kong, they can also apply for an Employment Visa directly to Hong Kong Immigration Department provided they have secured positions offered by an established company immediately after their graduation.  They have to fullfill the rest of the requirements for an employment visa application.

Mainland Talents and Professionals Scheme is designed for those professional people who have been residing in Mainland China.  As a normal employment visa application for Mainland Chinese requires them to reside overseas for at least 12 months, so this scheme is similar to a normal employment visa application but for those Mainland Chinese who has not fulfilled the 12 months overseas residency requirement.

The scheme requires applicants possess special skill and experience in the specific area which is relevant to the position offered.  The positions should be of a managerial or supervisory level; meanwhile the employing company is required to proof that they cannot possibly find a local candidate to fill up such position.  The key consideration of the scheme is what benefits the Mainland Chinese employee could bring to the local company and subsequently to Hong Kong as a whole.

The establishment of the employing company will also affect the application.  Generally speaking the longer the history and the larger in size of the employing company, the less questions will be asked about the company.  For a newly established company of less than 18 months operation, and employing less than 4 staff, immigration might even ask for a business plan, and also personal information of the business owners.

Mainland Talents and Professionals Scheme is originally designed for employing Mainland Chinese employees, but not for Mainland Chinese business owners who would like to set up their operation in Hong Kong.  However, under special circumstances, business owners might also qualify for the scheme.

Spouse or Partner:

Dependant Visas are: for direct family members joining their Sponsors in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong residents (valid employment or capital investment visa holders) are able to bring along their unmarried dependant children under 18 years old and spouse to Hong Kong.  For permanent residents (permanent HKID card holders), they can apply also for their aged dependant parents over 60 years old to join them in Hong Kong.  However, dependants of Student Visa holders are not allowed to work in Hong Kong.  All dependants are allowed to study.

If your family members are Mainland Chinese residents currently residing in Mainland China, they will not qualify for the dependant visas unless they have secured permanent residency in a foreign country.  However, if the Sponsors are admitted to Hong Kong under the Mainland Talents and Professional Admission Scheme, the Sponsors can bring along their unmarried dependant children under 18 years old and spouse to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Immigration Department does not recognise common law or defacto relationships.  Defacto partners will not qualify for dependant visas, but might be qualified for a discretionary long-visa status explained below.

Pro-long Visitor Visas (based on a defacto relationship) are for unmarried partners who have been in a common law or defacto relationship for at least 12 months.  This is a discretionary application by the Department and it requires the couple to show evidence of co-habitation for at least 12 months before submission of the application.  A pro-long visitor visa is usually issued for 6 months (the validity, any period under 6 months, is entirely on the discretion of the Department).  The visa can be renewed for another 6 months before it expires.  A pro-long visitor visa is not a resident visa, so the holder will not qualify for a HKID card.  Some visa-free nationals might have 6 months visitor status upon their entry to Hong Kong.  It is still advisable for defacto partners of such nationals to apply for the pro-long visitor visas as they cannot continuously extend their vistior visas by traveling in and out of Hong Kong.  However, a pro-long visitor visa can be renewed provided the relationship is unchanged and fulfilled the other requirements.

The requirements for a dependant visa application and pro-long visitor visa (based on a defacto relationship) are the same.  The key consideration of the applications is that sponsors are required to show that they can support their dependants living in Hong Kong comfortably.  The sponsors are required to show documents to proof their financial situations, such as pay slips, employment contract, bank statements and other assets, ...etc.  In some situations the dpendants might be more financially sound than the sponsors, but from the immigration stand point, the Department is only interested in the sponsor's financial situation.

Intern or Student:

Training Visas are for interns or trainees to be stationed in a company in Hong Kong to receive their necessary training.  The visa validity depends on the training programme submitted to Immigration.  The programme is required to be broken down in weeks and to indicate clearly what sort of training is offered in each week.  The maximum period for a training visa is 12 months, and the visa cannot be extended beyond 12 months.

A training visa cannot be switched to an employment visa!  A training visa is for non-experienced individuals without any relevant experience in the specific area, which opposed to the requirement for an employment visa application.  Training visa holders are only egligible for a HKID card if their visas are initially issued for more than 6 months.

Student Visas are for people being offered placement in one of the academic institutes in Hong Kong.  Most student visas are issued to foreign university students in Hong Kong.  If you would like to apply a student visa to study in a secondary or language schoo, or study any kind of short courses, you need to pay particular attention to whether the school is privately owned and has fulfilled all the government school licensing requirements

Money Investor:

The Capital Investment Scheme is also known as the HK$6.5 million Investment Scheme.  It is for pure monetary investor to invest in Hong Kong, while they can enjoy being a resident here.

The scheme is applicable to foreign nationals (except nationals of Afghanistan, Albania, Cuba and Democratic People's Republic of Korea), residents of Macao SAR and Taiwan, and Chinese nationals who have obtained permanent resident status in other foreign countries.

In order to qualify for the scheme, applicants must be over 18 years old and fulfill the following requirements:

1. In possession of not less than HK$6.5 million net assets throughout the 2 years preceding the application.

2. The HK$6.5 million investment is required to be made within six months before submission of the application and six months after approval in principle is granted.

3. Applicants are able to support their living, with any dependants, in Hong Kong without relying on any return of the HK$6.5 million investment made.

4. It is not allowed to withdraw any capital gain from the requisite minimum level of HK$6.5 million investment if its market value rises about the original requisite level.  Rental income, cash dividend income and interest income derived from permissible financial assets are exempted and can be retained by the applicants.  However, if the investment falls below the requisite minimum level of HK$6.5 million under the Scheme, there is no need to top up the value of investment back to HK$.6.5 million level.

5. Any changes of investment portfolio should be clearly recorded in details for further visa extensions.  The entire proceeds from any sales of the initial requisite assets are required to be reinvested in full.

6. Applicants are allowed to invest in  (a) Real Estates,  (b) Financial Assets (include Equities, Debt Securities, Certificates of Deposits, Subordinated Debt, and Eligible Collective Investment Schemes published at Immigration website)

7. No convicted or adverse record in any countries.

Successful applicants under the Scheme can bring along their spouse and unmarried children under 18 to Hong Kong under the requirements of Dependant Visas.

Upon 7 years continuous ordinarily residency in Hong Kong, the Capital Investment Scheme visa holders can apply to become a permanent resident.  If the visa holders under the scheme did not qualify for permanent resident status, an Unconditional Stay Hong Kong Identity Card would be granted upon fulfilling the requirements for 7 years under the Scheme.

Permanent Resident:

Any person who has been ordinarily residing in Hong Kong for more than 7 years could apply for the Right of Abode in Hong Kong.  This is also known as the Permanent Resident application, or application for a Permanent Hong Kong Identity Card.

The key consideration of this application is to proof that the person has been continuously living in Hong Kong for not less than 7 years before filing the application, and such person has already taken Hong Kong as his / her only place of domicile, and would continue to reside in Hong Kong for the near foreseeable future.

Though Hong Kong Immigration Department would have movement records of all individuals, the burden of proof will still be rested with the applicants.  The following situations will affect a permanent resident application:

1. Any period of continuous absence for more than 6 months during the 7 years.

2. Any period of aggregate absence for more than 6 months in any particular year during the 7 years.

3. Any period of not holding a resident visa (i.e. visitor visa) during the 7 years.

After the approval of a permanent resident status, the permanent resident cannot continuously absent from Hong Kong for more than 3 years, otherwise the permanent resident status would be lifted to right to land in Hong Kong.

Other Non-Resident:

Other non-resident visas include Travel Passes and Working Holiday Visas.

Travel Passes are for frequent visitors (usually business related) to Hong Kong in order to enjoy more convenient clearance as they can use the Hong Kong resident counters upon their arrival.  However, Travel Pass holders are only visitors, but not residents, in Hong Kong.

Applicants should demonstrate their genuine needs to visit Hong Kong frequently, and have come for visits trouble-free on 3 or more occasions (other than side trips to China or Macao) in the 12-month period preceding the applications.

Only visa-free nationals (i.e. visitors who do not require a pre-approved visitor visas) to Hong Kong are eligible to apply for Travel Passes.

Travel Passes are 32-page machine readable documents and are valid for three years with multiple entries allowed.  Holders are permitted to stay in Hong Kong for 60 days upon each entry.  Travel Passes are particular useful for frequent business visitors who are granted visa-free travel to Hong Kong with less than 60 days upon each entry. 

The key consideration for a Travel Pass application is the needs for frequent business "visit" to Hong Kong, but not for "employment".


Working Holiday Visas are eligible for citizens aged 18 to 30 of Australia, New Zealand and Ireland to enjoy their long holiday in Hong Kong while taking up some short-term employment or studies.

The scheme works on an annual quota system.  Upon fulfilling the requirements, the working holiday visas are served on a first-come first-served basis.  The annual quotas for Australia and New Zealand are 200 visas each, and the quotas for Ireland are 100 visas.

Applicants are required to demonstrate that their main intention to Hong Kong is for taking a holiday, with sufficient fund to support their proposed period of stay in Hong Kong.  They need to proof upon completion of their working holiday visas, they are willing leave Hong Kong on their own expenses.

The working holiday visas are valid for a 12-month period.  Holders can only work for the same employer for not more than 3 months.  The visas could not be extended when they expire.  Dependants are not allowed to accompany working holiday visa holders.  Working holiday visas are not allowed to switch to employment visas while the visa holders are still in Hong Kong.  They have to leave Hong Kong before filing any further employment visa applications.

There are certain limitations and requirements for different working holiday visa holders:

1. Australian - minimum of not less than HK$20,000 savings; and could study any courses for not more than 3 months each.  Medical insurance is optional.

2. New Zealanders - minimum of not less than HK$14,000 savings; and could study only one course for not more than 3 months.  Medical insurance is required.

3. Irish - minimum of not less than HK$20,000 savings; and study is not allowed.  Medical insurance is required.


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