Generally, a visa or entry permit is required to work, study, establish, or join in any business or to take up residence in Hong Kong. Otherwise, there is high risk of being refused admission on arrival.
However, if an individual holds any of the following travel documents, no visa or entry permit shall be required for any purpose:
- Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HK SAR) Passport;
- British National (Overseas) Passport;
- Hong Kong Certificate of Identity;
- Hong Kong Re-entry permit (for entry from mainland of China and the Macau Special Administrative Region only);
- Hong Kong Seaman’s Identity Book;
- Hong Kong Document of Identity for Visa Purposes, provided that the document is valid or the holder’s limit of stay in Hong Kong has not expired;
- Travel documents bearing one of the following endorsements:
a) Holder’s eligibility for Hong Kong permanent identity card verified; or
b) The holder of this travel document has the right to land in Hong Kong.
- Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card.
Hong Kong employment visa
Hong Kong has different types of visa for employment and investment, some of which are mentioned below:
- Visa under the General Employment Policy (GEP);
- Visa under the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP);
- Visa under Immigration Arrangements for Non-Local Graduates (IANG);
- Visa under Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents; and
- Visa under Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES).
Generally, the type of visa that is most applicable to foreign investors is the employment visa under the General Employment Policy.
Other work visas are for entrepreneurs and semi-skilled workers, like technicians.
Applicants for the employment visa must possess skills, knowledge, or experience that are not readily available in Hong Kong.
Note that different rules apply for mainland Chinese.
Employment visa requirements
To apply for the employment visa, the following requirements must be fulfilled:
- The applicant has no record of a serious crime, nor poses a security risk;
- Good background, such as a degree in a relevant field, or technical qualifications, proven professional abilities or experience, backed by documentary evidence;
- The applicant has a confirmed job offer; and,
- Remuneration is broadly in line with market levels.
Apart from the application form, the following documents need to be submitted.
From the employee:
- Copy of academic qualifications and relevant work experience; and
- Recent photo.
From the employer:
- The company’s employment contract or letter of appointment to the applicant containing information about post, salary, other fringe benefits and employment periods;
- Photocopy of the Business Registration Certificate;
- Photocopy of proof of financial standing, such as an audited financial report;
- Documents with details of company background such as business activities; and
- Detailed business plan.
Employment visa procedures
The above documents need to be collected and delivered to the Immigration Department of Hong Kong SAR.
Foreigners residing in mainland China at the time of application need to submit these documents to the Immigration Division of the Hong Kong Government in Beijing.
The processing of the work visa application takes about two to three months.
If the visa application is granted, a permit label will be issued to the applicant, who has to affix it onto their passport.
At this point, the fees need to be paid as well. With the label affixed onto the passport, the applicant can enter and work in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong visitor’s visa
Hong Kong grants a visa free period for citizens of most countries, usually for a length of seven, 14, 30 or 90 days depending on the country in question.
Exceptions are for British nationals, who may stay in Hong Kong without visa for up to 180 days. To stay longer than the visa-free period allowed, visitors must apply for a visa or entry permit before travelling to Hong Kong.
Visitors are required to have adequate funds to cover the duration of their stay without working and to hold onward or return tickets unless they are in transit to the mainland of China or the Macau Special Administrative Region.
Visitors are not allowed to take up employment (paid or unpaid), to establish or join in any business or to enter school as a student, where other types of visa or entry permit might be applied.
China Briefing is produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists foreign investors throughout Asia from offices across the world, including in Dalian, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Readers may write firstname.lastname@example.org for more support on doing business in China.