HONG KONG – Several Immigration Policy Changes Planned for Q2 2015

What has changed

Hong Kong officials recently outlined key elements of the governments 2015 policy agenda which included planned changes to the Hong Kong SAR General Employment Policy (GEP) and the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP).

Highlights of these changes include relaxed stay limits under certain visa schemes with extended validity of employment visas, new visa categories for exceptional candidates, and clarification of eligibility requirements for applicants seeking Employment Visas on the grounds of investment.

Who is affected?
What to expect

  • All qualifying applicants for new and renewed Employment Visas in Hong Kong

With the variety of changes expected in the first half of 2015, nearly all applicants for new and renewed visas may potentially benefit from the planned policy revisions. Below is a summary of the key changes to Hong Kong immigration policy:

  • Stay limits for entrants under the GEP, ASMTP, and Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS) have been relaxed. New and renewed visas will be issued for either two (2) years or the duration of an applicant’s employment contract, whichever is shorter.
  • When renewing visas obtained under the above noted categories, applicants will now be able to seek three (3) year extensions to their existing validity, or until the end of their employment contract, whichever is shorter. 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. This change will allow for greater      validity from the outset while reducing the number of renewal applications      for most applicants.
  • A “top tier” visa stream within each of the above noted categories will allow foreign workers who can demonstrate annual taxable income of HK$ 2MM (approximately US$ 258,000) in the previous financial year to receive a six (6) year unconditional extension of their stay. The unconditional extension of a qualified applicant’s visa would also allow them to work freely for any employer in Hong Kong, though notification of any changes to their employment must still be submitted to the relevant government authorities.
  • Specifically to the QMAS, applicants who graduated from internationally renowned learning institutions will be awarded more points for their applications, thus making it easier to qualify for this visa scheme.

Additional changes are planned, including updates to the Employment Visas based on Investment to allow for favorable consideration of businesses supported by government-backed programs, and new measures to attract second generation children of former Hong Kong Chinese permanent residents to return to Hong Kong.

These changes, and further updates, are expected between April and June, 2015. Emigra Worldwide will continue to monitor these developments and provide further updates as new information becomes available.

What you need to do
Planning ahead

  • Applicants and employers seeking new or extension of existing Hong Kong Employment Visas should carefully review the anticipated changes and plan accordingly.
  • Stay connected with Emigra Worldwide to receive our latest updates and analysis on these changes as further information becomes available in the first half of 2015.
  • 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.