July, 2011

 

WHO REQUIRES AN ENTRY VISA?

 

Every person who wishes to enter Hong Kong for the purpose of employment, investment, education, training or residence is required to obtain an entry visa before coming to Hong Kong unless he/she:

 

  • is a Hong Kong permanent resident with a Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card or
  • has the right of abode in Hong Kong or
  • has the right of unconditional stay in Hong Kong or
  • has the right to land in Hong Kong.

 

CATEGORIES OF ENTRY VISA

 

Employment visa

 

  • Permits employment in Hong Kong with a Hong Kong incorporated company, the Hong Kong branch of a foreign company, an individual or a partnership.

 

Investment visa

 

  • Permits investment in a Hong Kong incorporated company, the Hong Kong branch of a foreign company, a sole proprietorship or a partnership.

 

Education visa

 

  • Permits study in Hong Kong at an institution approved by the Hong Kong Immigration Department.

 

Training visa

 

  • Permits entry to Hong Kong for the purpose of training.

 

Residency visa

 

  • Permits residence in Hong Kong and is usually granted to dependents of people coming to Hong Kong for employment, investment, education or training.

 

SPONSORSHIP

 

Every applicant for an entry visa, irrespective of the category of visa, needs to have a sponsor. In the case of an application for an employment visa, the Immigration Department usually insists that the employer act as the sponsor where the employer is a company. Otherwise, the sponsor may be an individual in which case the sponsor must have been a Hong Kong resident for at least three years.

 

The sponsor must also undertake to assume responsibility for the applicant's repatriation to his or her original country of residency if, at the expiration of the stay granted by the Immigration Department, the applicant fails to leave Hong Kong. In addition, the sponsor must undertake to inform the Immigration Department of any change in the conditions of the applicant's stay in Hong Kong (e.g. cessation of the applicant's employment with the sponsor in Hong Kong).

 

POLICIES REGARDING EMPLOYMENT VISA

 

Under the existing immigration policy, a person seeking to enter Hong Kong for employment should possess a special skill, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in Hong Kong and that he/she is not filling a post which can be filled locally.

 

HOW TO APPLY FOR AN EMPLOYMENT VISA

 

Applications should be made through the sponsor prior to the applicant's arrival in Hong Kong. The applicant needs to complete an application form (available from the Immigration Department) and submit it to the Immigration Department together with the following initial information/documents:

 

  • copy of the applicant's travel document
  • two identical photographs of the applicant
  • copy of the proposed employment contract with details of salary and benefits
  • full job description
  • resume of the applicant and copies of supporting academic certificates (where applicable)
  • employment references (where applicable).

 

Where the sponsor is a company, the sponsor is required to submit the following information/documents:

 

  • copy of its Certificate of Incorporation (or equivalent)
  • copy of its Business Registration Certificate
  • copy of its latest annual accounts and audit report (where applicable)
  • general information about the company
  • a staff list of the company

 

If the sponsor is an individual, a copy of the sponsor's Hong Kong Identity Card and copies of the sponsor's tax returns for the previous three years must be submitted.

 

The Immigration Department is also entitled to require further information and documents for the purpose of assessing the credibility of the application. It is not unusual for the Immigration Department also to require a letter from the employer explaining why it is not employing a Hong Kong resident for the position.

 

Where the applicant's family will also be coming to Hong Kong, each dependant family member may apply for a residency visa which would enable the dependent to work or study in Hong Kong subject to the validity of the applicant's employment visa. Where possible, a dependent's residency visa application should be submitted with the applicant's employment visa application.

 

As part of the application procedure, the dependent will be required to submit proof of his/her relationship with the applicant. In most cases, applicants for residency visas are immediate family members of the applicant. It is unlikely that a person who is dependent on but not legally related to an applicant will be able to successfully apply for a dependent's visa but depending on the circumstances of each case, he/she may be granted a prolonged visitor's permit.

 

APPLICATION AFTER ARRIVAL IN HONG KONG

 

An application for an employment visa may be made after the applicant has arrived in Hong Kong. These applications are known as "change of status applications" because the applicant is applying for a change of status from visitor to employee.

 

The documentation and information required in connection with the making of a change of status application is the same as that required for an employment visa application except that different Immigration Department forms need to be completed.

 

With change of status applications, the Immigration Department sometimes requires a satisfactory explanation as to why an employment visa was not applied for before the applicant's arrival in Hong Kong.

 

It is important to note that a change of status applicant may not work in Hong Kong until an employment visa is obtained.

 

OTHER VISAS

 

Similar documentation and information is required when applying for other categories of entry visa.

 

CAPITAL INVESTMENT ENTRANT SCHEME

 

The Capital Investment Entrant Scheme provides an avenue to obtain entry for residence in Hong Kong for individuals who are willing to make capital investment but would not be engaged in the running of any business in Hong Kong.

 

The scheme is applicable to most foreign nationals, Macao Special Administrative Region residents and Taiwan residents. However, for mainland PRC residents, the scheme is only applicable they have obtained permanent resident status in a foreign country.

 

The scheme is only available for anyone who:

 

  • is aged 18 or above when applying for entry under the Scheme;
  • has net assets of not less than HK$6.5 million to which he/she is absolutely beneficially entitled throughout the two years preceding the application;
  • has invested or will invest not less than HK$6.5 million in permissible investment asset classes in Hong Kong;
  • has no adverse record both in Hong Kong and country/region of residence; and
  • be able to demonstrate that he/she is capable of supporting and accommodating himself/ herself (and dependents if any) without relying on any return on the permissible investment assets, employment or public assistance in Hong Kong.

 

Entrants under the scheme are allowed to make their choice of investments amongst permissible assets without the need to establish or join in a business. Currently, there are two types of permissible assets and entrants can invest in either or both of the permissible investment asset classes:

 

  • Real Estate
    • Commercial properties
    • Industrial properties
    • Residential properties
  • Financial assets
    • Equities
    • Debt securities
    • Certificates of Deposits
    • Subordinated debt
    • Eligible Collective Investment Schemes

 

Entrants are free to switch their investments from one permissible asset class to another (e.g. from real estate to financial assets or vice versa) provided that the entire proceeds from the sale of the initial assets are reinvested.

 

HONG KONG IDENTITY CARDS

 

It is a requirement of Hong Kong law that a resident of Hong Kong must carry a Hong Kong Identity Card at all times. Applications for Identity Cards must be made in person at the Immigration Department. Advance telephone bookings can be made.

 

IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT DETAILS

 

Immigration Department forms can be obtained from the central office as well as the regional immigration offices located throughout Kowloon and the New Territories. Applications for entry visas should be submitted to the central office in Wan Chai. Business hours at the regional offices may vary from those at the central office.

 

The central office of the Immigration Department is located at the following address:

 

Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong. 
Tel: +852 2824 6111; Fax: +852 2877 7711 
The opening hours are as follows: 
Monday to Friday – 8:45am to 4:30pm; Saturday – 9:00am to 11:30am

 

 

For Further information, please contact

 

Cynthia Chung 

 

 

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