- Who needs a Visa
- Business Visa
- Work Authorisation
- Penalties for non compliance
- Points to Note
Who needs a visa?
In general only a small group of nationals of foreign countries require visas to enter Hong Kong as a visitor. There are in excess of 100 Visa and Work Authorisation categories.
Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further advice.
Generally, a visitor visa can be issued to visitors travelling to Hong Kong for a short-term visit to conduct business activities, including attending business meetings, discussions or conferences. Please note that Hong Kong is one of the few places that offer Visa Free Tourist and Business Visitor travel for periods from 7 days to 180 days.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Travel Pass
Frequent visitors who hold valid passports and who are eligible to enter Hong Kong without a Visa or Entry Permit may apply for a HKSAR Travel Pass.
Type of Visa
Those nationals who require a visa to enter Hong Kong for business will need to apply for a Visitor Visa.
Applicants need to submit a Visitor Visa application in their country of residence to the applicable authority, or Embassy of the Peoples Republic of China.
Processing times for visa applications tend to vary and change without notice, for applications submitted in the UK, the processing times is from 3 to 20 working days.
The validity period of Visitor Visas varies. The permitted maximum allowable stay as a Business Visitor is 180 days.
Due to the large number of work authorisation categories, the following information provides details of the Employment Visa. Visa categories are determined mainly by the details and specifics of the Hong Kong company, the applicant’s education, work experience, and job role.
Type of Visa
To obtain permission to work, the applicant must obtain work authorisation and apply for a Work Visa. There are a number of different work visa types including categories such as New Hires, Work Permits and Working Holiday. It is possible to change from visitor status to an alternative immigration category once the foreign worker is in Hong Kong.
The application will need to be filed in Hong Kong, with the appropriate immigration department.
The following details relate to a typical Employment Visa application:
- Submission of Employment Visa and Employment Authorisation Application.
- Employment Visa Approval – once approved a visa sticker will be issued that must be sent to the applicant in his/ her country of residence. The applicant will need to affix the Visa sticker onto an appropriate page of their valid passport.
- For those employees who are to remain in Hong Kong for more than 180 days, a Hong Kong ID card will need to be applied for locally in Hong Kong.
Processing times for work authorisation and work visa applications tend to vary depending upon nationality, and can change without notice. Typically, work approval and work visa applications take 4 to 6 weeks to process.
Under Hong Kong immigration laws, an employer is generally allowed to employ overseas workers for varying periods. Most Employment and Dependant Visas have 12 months initial validity. After this period, a 2 year renewal is typically available as long as the applicant has met the requirements of the visa. Permanent Residence may be available after 7 years.
The immigration status of a dependant is reliant on the type of permit and the status of the foreign worker. Legal spouses and children up to the age 18 year of Work Visa holders can receive Dependant Visas. Employment is generally not permitted, subject to limited strict exemptions. Non-married partners are not recognised.
Penalties for Non Compliance
If the employer breaches the immigration rules the Hong Kong Government may:
- Impose fines; and
- Can face prevention from sponsoring further assignees for Employment Permit applications as well as being named in state media as not respecting local laws and customs.
If the foreign worker breaches the immigration rules their Work Visa may be cancelled and they will be required to leave Hong Kong. They can also face fines of up to HKD 50,000 and in some serious cases, imprisonment of up to 2 years.
Points to Note
- Unofficial partners cannot receive dependant status.
- Absence of a degree, relevant experience, or sufficient compensation can complicate Employment Visa applications.
- In certain circumstance, an employer’s ratio of foreign to local workers may be scrutinised during applications for work authorisation.
The contents of this article are for information purposes only. The information and opinions expressed in this document do not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for legal advice or a comprehensive statement of law or current practice. Immigration rules and requirements frequently change without notice. You should not rely upon the contents of this document but instead should seek appropriate professional and legal advice in the light of your personal circumstances. No liability is accepted for the opinions contained or for any errors or commissions. Please contact our Global Immigration Team for further information.