Hong Kong – Immigration Policy Changes (UPDATE)

What has changed

As an update to a previous eAlert from February 3, 2015, the Hong Kong Immigration Department has now implemented several immigration policy changes.

Effective May 4, 2015 new Hong Kong Employment Visas under the General Employment Policy (GEP) and Admission Scheme for Mainland Talent Professionals (ASMTP) will now be issued for an initial two (2) years followed by a possible three (3) year extension. Top-tier professionals will be eligible for a new six(6)-year extension.

Previously, employment visas were issued for one (1) year, renewable twice for an additional two (2) years each time, followed by a three (3) year extension upon completion of the third renewal.

The government has also introduced an Admission Scheme for Second Generation of Hong Kong Permanent Residents (ASSG).

Who is affected?
What to expect

  • GEP and ASMTP visa holders
  • Top Tier professionals under GEP or ASMTP visas
  • Children of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents who had emigrated from Hong Kong

 

GEP and ASMTP Visas

The initial two (2) year GEP or ASMTP visas will be available for applicants granted that their employment offer is for a period of two (2) years or more. The new two (2) year visa length will also apply to dependents of these visa holders. Applicants may also apply for an extension with a validity of three (3) years or valid until the end of their employment contract, whichever is shorter. To benefit from the full longer visa period, the visa applicant must hold a passport with sufficient validity.

Top Tier Visa

Top-tier professionals under the above visa categories are eligible for a six (6) year extension of stay. To be eligible the applicant must have been previously granted a two (2) year extension and must provide evidence of an income of HK$2 million (USD 257,990) or greater in the previous tax assessment year.Holders of this visa may change employers without prior approval and will only be required to inform the Hong Kong Immigration Department of a change in their employer.

The processing times for these visas are not yet confirmed but are expected to be less than three (3) weeks. A new version of the application used for visa extensions has been released and the previous form will not be accepted after May 5, 2015.

Other Changes

The Government has introduced an Admission for the Second Generation of Hong Kong Permanent Residents (ASSG). The ASSG aims to attract the children of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents who have emigrated from Hong Kong. Applicants must be between the ages of eighteen (18) and forty (40) and will need to have a degree and knowledge of Chinese or English in order to successfully apply for this visa. Visas will be issued for an initial period of twelve (12) months. While it is not required that applicants have a job offer when applying initially, they will be required to have a job offer at the time of renewal.

There are also changes being made to the Quality Migration Admission Scheme, Hong Kong’s points-test based skilled migration program, and to the Investment Visa category of Employment Visas. Please contact your Emigra Worldwide representative for further information on these changes.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • Employers should take notice of the extended period of stay for employment visas provided the length of the employment contract is valid for an equal or greater length of time.
  • Top-tier professionals who are applying for a six (6) year extension must be prepared to provide evidence of meeting the salary requirement through provisions of tax assessments or similar supporting documentation.
  • Applicants of the ASSG are not required to have a job offer initially but must have a job offer in order to apply for a renewal.
  • Contact your Emigra Worldwide attorney or representative for further details on how these updates may impact you or your clients

The information above was provided by Emigra Worldwide, our global network partners, and relevant government authorities. The information herein is for general purposes only and not intended as advice for a particular matter. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the global immigration professional with whom you work.