Hong Kong Visas

Planning to visit or move to Hong Kong?

Planning to visit or move to Hong Kong? By visiting Hong Kong, you would be offered the chance to explore a buzzing metropolis with a diverse population and an attractive expat infrastructure. Here you would learn all about the types of Hong Kong visas and how to obtain the right visa for your visit to Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong expat community relishes on all the sorts of comforts someone working far from home could ask for. The city has a massive range of international schools of all teaching philosophies as well as world-class medical standards’ dentists and doctors who are English-speaking. Additionally, another advantage for foreigners in Hong Kong is that there are two official languages in Hong Kong, one being English.

In short, you would not need to rely on body language to communicate with people and government processes. Though if seen practically some knowledge of Cantonese, the local Chinese dialect, can be useful mostly if you want to move beyond the boundaries of the expat community.

Introduction

Nationals of about 160 territories and countries have the permit to visit Hong Kong without a visa, only if the person is legally eligible. Moreover, this person can stay for a minimum period of 7 days to about 180 days maximum depending on the nationality and the permit granted.

So, there are high chances for you to visit Hong Kong without getting into the lengthy procedures for the visa document. If you are planning to go on a sightseeing trip or to meet friends, just find out about your country’s eligibility to visit Hong Kong without going through the hectic Hong Kong visas system.

These people from the Hong Kong visa-free countries would need to obtain the appropriate Hong Kong visas in case they are searching for work in Hong Kong or are about to start a business there. Also, the person would have to apply for a visa if the tour is more than the granted visa-free stay length.

Those who are allowed to get visas are requested to get them beforehand, as it is not possible to always get them on arrival. And even though Hong Kong is a part of China, the entry regulations and the visa document in Hong Kong is very different and independent. In short, this means that if a person has a normal China visa, they are not allowed to enter Hong Kong with it or vice versa.

Hong Kong visa-free countries

The nationalities that are allowed to enter without a visa and stay for at least 90 days are Americans, Europeans, Canadians, and people from New Zealand. People from the UK can stay for about 180 days without a visa. On the other hand, those people from countries like Cambodia, Armenia, Albania, etc need a visa to enter into Hong Kong.

Additionally, people visiting Hong Kong have to have a passport that is valid for at least one month to about six months, which again depends on the nationality. And that validity period has to be after their intended stay in Hong Kong. Also, if you would like to travel from Hong Kong to mainland China, you might have to apply for the China visa and cannot use Hong Kong visas.

Usually, Hong Kong is quite open for those who want to just visit the country as a tourist or for conducting business activities for the overseas business that includes attending trade fairs, providing training, or visiting clients and prospects.

Hong Kong Visas for Immigrating to Hong Kong

If you are an expat that is planning to stay in Hong Kong for more than 180 days, you would be taking up regular employment and would need a work visa to stay and work in the country. Though it is very tough to get the visa, having a confirmed offer of employment that is relevant to the academic or professional background would help you attain the visa easily.

Moreover, the prospective employers would also have to convince the local authorities that their position would not be able to be filled by a local of Hong Kong. The same rules are there for a person changing a job. But if you have opened a company there with the help of an agency like Startupr, you would not need the drama of all this.

All you need is to connect with the company and get your business opened while you can sit in your home country. As soon as it is running, you can apply for the business visit visa whenever you want to check out the legal things or even move to Hong Kong for your business.

Types of Visas

As mentioned above, your passport has to be about six months valid or more from the date of the intended entry. The most common Hong Kong visas are:

1) Visiting Visa for Hong Kong

There are some citizens of some countries that are permitted to visit Hong Kong without the visa for about seven to 180 days, as mentioned above as well. These countries include the US, Spain, Singapore, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, and the UK. If you want to know more about the nationalities that are permitted to enter Hong Kong for visiting without a visa, you can check it out at www.immd.gov.hk.

There are a few types of visiting Hong Kong visas, and they are:

  • Pre-arrival Registration for Taiwan Residents
  • APEC Business Travel Card
  • HKSAR Travel Pass
  • Working Holiday Visa
  • Visit or Transit Visa

In case you need a visa, you would need to apply for it at the Chinese Embassy or consulate in your country. The process of the application might take up to 4 weeks, though the amount of time depends on the government office and how busy they are. There is a chance where you can request for the Hong Kong visas early arrival, but it is better to leave them to do their work. Also, note that once you have moved to Hong Kong on a visitor’s visa, there is no chance for you to change it for a work visa without leaving and then re-entering the country again, irrespective of your nationality.

2) Work Visa for Hong Kong

For a work visa, which is also called an employment visa, it is vital to have a job in the company that would be sponsoring you since they are willing to employ you. Moreover, it is this company that would carry out the application procedure for your visa.

Furthermore, the sponsoring company has to prove to the embassy and the government that you hold the essential and necessary skills for the job in Hong Kong. Also, they would need to prove the reason why a foreigner is needed, and a local cannot fill this space. For the Hong Kong work visas, the immigrant department would check the applicant’s job experience, education, and the other factors as well.

The Hong Kong visas application for work is not submitted by you, but by your future employer. They would even need to provide the embassy with the confirmed offer of employment, and the evidence that the compensation package includes medical provisions, accommodation, and salary, along with the other advantages that are appropriate for the Hong Kong professionals.

After the work visa document in Hong Kong has been submitted, it would take about 4 to 6 weeks for the visa to be processed. Then the prepared entry visa is provided to the employer who would then have to send it to you. As soon as you get your visa and even move to Hong Kong, you can apply for the residency Hong Kong visas for your children and spouse as well.

Renewal of Work Visa in Hong Kong

Another thing about the work Hong Kong visas is that they are only granted for the duration of your contract of employment, and usually for more than two years. If the company wants to keep you for a longer time limit in their company, they would have to apply for the renewal, which is a quite straightforward process.

The Hong Kong visas that you get for a job is not transferable from one company to another. In case you have resigned or have been fired, you would need to apply for another visa and begin the process all over again. Moreover, the sponsoring employer is required to let the Immigration Department know about it when you leave. The intra-company transfers are possible for those employees who have worked for over 12 months in any overseas office.

In case you want to do some extra work out of the scope of the visa you got, you would need to apply for the permission for this additional employment. For this, you would have to submit the application form and the visa document in the Hong Kong Immigration Department along with your passport, ID card, a letter from your current work visa sponsor permitting for you to take up the work, and a description of the work contract you have.

Under the work visa category, there are many types of Hong Kong visas that fall. They are:

  • Imported Workers Visa
  • Entry Visa for New Helper
  • Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES) Visa
  • Investment (to establish / join in business) Visa
  • Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG) Visa
  • Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP) Visa
  • General Employment (GEP) Visa
  • Employment/investment visa

3) Investment Visa for Hong Kong

The investment visas are issued to self-employed people in Hong Kong. If a person wants to apply for the investment visa, then there would be a need to complete a significant amount of paper that would give the details of your the jobs it will create, capital and aspects of the activity, the proposed business activities, professional experience, and even your educational background. If you are planning to move, you can check it out on your own at the Immigration Department’s website www.immd.gov.hk.

4) Dependant Visa

For the dependent visa document in Hong Kong, you would need to give the birth certificates and passports of your family as well as the marriage certificate, if applicable. You would also need to offer the proof to the Immigration Department that you would be able to support your family and that they have no criminal records at all. Also, the dependant spouses of the foreign workers that have a work visa are allowed to take up employment.

5) Student Visa

The student visas are taken care of the same as the work Hong Kong visas are handled. In short, for getting a student visa, your sponsoring educational institution would need to apply for the visa for you.

6) Permanent Residency

The permanent residence status might be granted to those people who have been living in Hong Kong continuously for seven years without leaving the country. Other than this, many additional requirements have to be fulfilled. Also, if you have a PR for Hong Kong, you can live in Hong Kong and even work there without a visa. In case you leave the country for more than 3 years continuously, you would lose the PR status.

7) Other Types of Visas

There are three other additional Hong Kong visas and they are:

  • Working Holiday Scheme: Only a few nationals can get this scheme, and it is based on a quota system. This means that a limited number of Hong Kong visas are granted in a year. Moreover, this visa has a validity of about 12 months and a person can get this visa once in their lifetime.
  • Training Visa: This is valid for just a month, and it for those people who cannot get the same type of training in their own country.
  • Domestic Help Visa: The domestic help visas are valid for an about 2-year domestic work contract, and the domestic worker stays in the employer’s house with them. Moreover, these people cannot become permanent residents.

Which visa is most suitable for you?

Now that you have understood the Hong Kong visas system and want to visit Hong Kong still, you need to select the right type of visa that you would have to apply for. And if you took the help of an agency like Startupr to start a business there and now you want to go there for just a few days and get some business work done, you know that you need the business travelers visa.

Moreover, unlike the business trip to China, the business travelers get the visa document in Hong Kong very easily. And as mentioned above, even though the regular short trips to Hong Kong for many does not need any visa, but the business traveler might need one.

For example, the US citizens do not need Hong Kong visas for visiting Hong Kong for 90 days, but if they are going for some work, to establish a business or study, a visa is needed. In short, if you have a business meeting or anything business related, you would need the visa document in Hong Kong.

A point to note here is that if you are planning to visit mainland China in the trip, you would have to apply for the separate visa.

Complete the Paperwork

To begin with, make sure your passport is valid and isn’t going to expire anytime soon (at least valid for more than six months.) For applying for the visa document in Hong Kong, you need to visit the immigration department’s website. On the site, you would get the visa forms and can download them directly. All you would need is a passport size photo and the supporting business documents.

The visa applications have to be submitted in person, as mailed applications are not accepted. Also, as soon as you have gathered all the necessary papers, submit them to the nearest Chinese Consulate for processing. You can also ask an authorized agent to help you get this done if you are not able to do it yourself.

Documents needed for each visa

The documents that you would have to submit for the Hong Kong visas are:

  1. An appropriately completed Visa Application Form;
  2. Transportation arrangement copy (e.g. flight itinerary);
  3. Proof of the purpose of the visit to Hong Kong, such as:
    – Residence on dependant basis – Hong Kong ID card of the family, relationship certificate, etc;
    – Employment – Work experience proof, education background, medical report, and labor contract, etc.;
    – Study – Admission notice, sponsor letter, etc.;
    – Business – An invitation letter issued by the applicant’s employing company or by a local company to prove his stay in HK;
    – Transit – Photocopy of the proposed visit to the next destination after visiting HK, itinerary, etc.;
    – Family visit – Photocopy of proof of relationship with the person or local sponsor in HK;
    – Leisure – Package Tour receipt, itinerary, etc.
  4. A photocopy of the proof of financial status (e.g., employment certificate, savings accounts passbooks, bank statement, tax payment receipts, etc.);
  5. A recent photograph of the applicant attached on the application form;
  6. A photocopy of the travel document of the applicant.

Any documents that need to be submitted by the sponsor, if any, are:

  1. If the sponsor is an individual:
    – A photocopy of the travel document of the sponsor (for non-permanent resident of Hong Kong only);
    – A photocopy of the sponsor’s HK ID card;
    – A sponsor application form.
  2. If the sponsor is a company:
    – A photocopy of business registration certificate;
    – A sponsor application form;

Procedures

As mentioned above, travelers can apply for the Hong Kong visas from any nearby Chinese embassy or consulate. Other than that, you can also submit the visa application to the HKSAR Immigration Department either by the local sponsor or the post.

Also, if you want the processing time to be faster, you can send the application forms and the supporting visa document in Hong Kong via fax in the first instance. However, you would also have to send the original copy of the duly completed application form as well as the photographs required immediately to the HKSAR Immigration Department by air mail then.

The entry permit or the visa would be given to you only on the receipt of an original, and properly completed visa application form. So, make sure you have followed the obligations and then have submitted the forms. Also, you can take help from the travel professionals to get the work done better and on time.

Timeline

Give about 4 to 6 weeks for the application to be processed after you have submitted the visa document in Hong Kong to the Immigration Department. Moreover, there is no express service available, and hence, it is better to be prepared for this before time.

Furthermore, if the Hong Kong visas application is directly handled by the Commissioner Office in Macau, or the Beijing Office of HKSAR, or an overseas Chinese embassy/consulate, it would usually take four business working days for the visa to be processed.

For emergency cases, there is the express service (third-day pickup) and the rush service (second-day pickup) available with these government offices. But you would have to pay extra fees for the process to be expedited.

Note: The processing time begins from the day all of the necessary documents have been submitted.

Permanent Residence

If a person has been living in Hong Kong for about seven years, that person can become a permanent resident of Hong Kong with the help of their visa document. There are many perks that you get for becoming a permanent resident that includes the social benefits that locals have. These benefits are a priority in public schools, assistance payments, and public housing.

To be eligible for permanent residency in Hong Kong, foreign nationals are required to have stayed in Hong Kong continuously for seven years. And if someone traveled for a month out of Hong Kong, they would have to stay for about seven years and one month to cover it up. Also, the permanent residents do not have to give up their other passports or citizenships for this.

In short, if you have been living in Hong Kong for a long time and intended to stay further, it is good to get a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card issued by HK’s immigration department instead of renewing the visa document in Hong Kong.

You would have the rights of abode in HK, which is the same as a green card, just that you are not a national there. Moreover, you can stay there until and unless you depart Hong Kong for another place of residence and stay in the new location, outside Hong Kong for 36 months.

Who is eligible for the HK permanent resident status?

To get this status, you need to be someone who is not Chinese and should have entered Hong Kong with a valid visa, travel document, and passport. Moreover, you should have resided in Hong Kong for about seven years continuously, making Hong Kong your place of residence.

Ordinarily resident

The seven-year period of living in Hong Kong has to be continuous and has to include the time where you were living in Hong Kong only. Moreover, you do not need to be literally present in Hong Kong for the entire seven years, but you need to be an ‘ordinarily resident’ there during that time. Ordinary residence means where you live there and have temporary leaves for maybe a business visit, or a holiday.

Also, there isn’t any decided acceptable length of time for staying out of the country, but on the application form for the card, you would be obligated to state the reason, whereabouts and period if you were not there in Hong Kong for some time more than six months. And this too, during the time of ordinary residence for you.

Dual citizenship

China does not recognize the dual citizenship idea, and so it is not possible to be a citizen of Hong Kong without undergoing naturalization and becoming Chinese citizen entirely. This includes giving up your existing nationality in the process.

Fee & Processing time

The application is free of charge for applying for the PR status in Hong Kong. And if you have processed all the things and have paid the fees, it takes the Immigration Department in Hong Kong about six weeks to process the document. As soon as it has been processed, you would be given the document that confirm your rights of abode in HK. But this document is not the one that you need, you would have to use this document to get the card, which would take another two weeks to be processed.

The documents needed to apply for a card are:

  • Copy of the travel documents to show your entry into Hong Kong, which includes all your passports from the last seven years. Along with this, you have to share the current condition of stay in Hong Kong like the employment contract, investment documents, visa etc
  • Copy of the documents that show that you were a continuous ordinary resident in Hong Kong from the last seven years till the date of the application. The documents in this can include the income tax receipts, bank statements, official receipts, proof of employment, and school documents
  • Copy of existing Hong Kong identity card (if any)
  • Declaration of having taken Hong Kong as the only place of permanent residence
  • Application for verification of eligibility for permanent identity card (supplementary information form)
  • Application for verification of eligibility for permanent identity card

Notes: If any additional information is needed, you would be notified about it in writing. And when a document is not in English or Chinese, it has to be accompanied by the English or Chinese translation that is certified as a real translation by an official translator, expert translator, certified translator, authorized public translator or a court translator. You can obviously ask an agency to help you as well.

How to submit?

The following are the ways by how you can submit the visa document in Hong Kong for the permanent residency in Hong Kong:

  • You can apply the application online by scanning all of your documents and upload to the government office link.
  • You can also email the application documents to the Immigration Department. For this, you need to complete the form online, print it out and sign on each page.

Notice: The applicants have to be in Hong Kong and stay there while they are submitting the Hong Kong visas applications. It doesn’t matter if the person is sending it via the post, drop-in or online as well. In case you are not physically present in Hong Kong when you apply the application for the PR in Hong Kong, it would not be processed.

After submission

The next process after you have submitted the application are:

  • Once the applications have been submitted to them, the department would verify the documents, and they may ask you to fill out some additional forms as well.
  • In case you are approved for the right of abode, you would be requested to bring the original copies of some of the documents to be verified. Though some people take this process as the interview process, it technically is not.
  • As soon as the original documents have been verified, you would be given the appropriate status in a letter format. Then, you can take the letter and your passport to get the Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card at the Registration of Persons Office.
  • They would issue a paper version of the Hong Kong permanent identity card for temporary use until you get the smart card sent to you, which takes around two weeks.

Conclusion

With all the information on the Hong Kong visas as mentioned above, hopefully the process is clearer on the visa and documents you need. If you have just opened a company in Hong Kong and are going for a business deed there, you need the business travelers visa. And if you have not yet initiated your business plan in doubt of the visa process, start it now with the help of Startupr to enjoy the benefits Hong Kong has to offer.