Immigration Fast Facts: Hong Kong

At Emigra Worldwide, we know that even experienced expats can be caught off-guard when re-locating to a new country. With that in mind, here are five aspects of immigration that can trip up – or thrill! – first-time travelers to Hong Kong.

General information – processes are influenced by nationality

Initial Entry Employment and Dependant Visas are granted for a maximum duration of 24 months subject to passport validity  and  if capped for a lesser duration by the sponsor company. Processing times are typically 4 to 6 weeks from application filing date under the General Employment Policy (GEP) which is available for all nationalities except restricted nationalities and Chinese nationals coming from the PRC.  The entry visa is usually valid for a period of 3 months from the date of issuance. Taiwanese nationals can only secure a single entry permit and must apply for the Multiple Entry Permit (MEP) post arrival. The processing time is 7 to 10 days from application filing, and the applicant cannot exit or travel out of Hong Kong until they have had the Employment Visa endorsed in the MEP.

China specifics

Chinese nationals are eligible to apply under the GEP if they have permanent residence overseas or have resided outside of China for at least 1 year preceding the application. Overseas Chinese nationals must use their passport to travel initially to Hong Kong and for all subsequent travels. Their first entry must be from overseas i.e. countries other than China Macau and Hong Kong.

Chinese nationals entering from the PRC are eligible to apply for the Employment Visa under the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talent & Professionals (ASMTP). The processing time for the Hong Kong Employment Visa is the same, the document requirements are more stringent and they need to apply for an Exit Endorsement in China on receipt of the original visa label. The average processing time for the Exit Endorsement is 10 working days. They are only permitted to enter Hong Kong from China on their first entry and must use a travel document called the Exit Entry Permit (EEP) and not their passport.

Family matters 

Dependant Visas are granted to legally married spouses of the opposite sex and unmarried children up to 18 years of age. Dependant Visa holders are also fortunate enough to be permitted to work without requiring their own independent Employment Visa.

Long term planning

Upon the completion of 7 years of continuous stay in Hong Kong, Employment/Dependant Visa holders are eligible to apply for the Right of Abode (ROA) application. On approval, they must apply for the Hong Kong Permanent Resident (HK PR) Identity card. Once obtained, the individual no longer requires a visa to work and reside in Hong Kong.

 Hong Kong Identity card (HK ID) for all

All visa categories except visitors must apply for the Hong Kong Identity card (HK ID) within 30 days of arrival in Hong Kong, if their stay in Hong Kong (visa validity) is over a period of 180 days.