General Procedures

As a foreign national entering Hong Kong for purposes of employment, establishing a business or joining a company, you will need a work visa from the Hong Kong Immigration Department before you arrive.

If your family members will accompany you, they need to obtain dependent visas prior to arrival as well. 

To apply for a visa, download the relevant forms from the Immigration Department website and submit them via post to the Immigration Department office in Wan Chai or in person to the nearest Chinese diplomatic and consular mission. The typical processing period is between eight and twelve weeks. 

To apply, you’ll need to list a local sponsor in Hong Kong (typically the local employer if you are coming in for employment as a professional). Your sponsor also must complete a form and provide relevant supporting documentation. Your application will then be assessed and results will be forwarded to the embassy where your application was filed.

Visas for Employment as a Professional

With employment offered by a Hong Kong company, an application for your work visa can be made on your behalf in Hong Kong.

Typically, you will need to supply your resume and copies of certificates and qualifications, and your local employer will need to provide a job description of your position. The process, once all the paperwork has been submitted and is confirmed complete, should take a minimum of four to six weeks. During the processing time, you are not allowed to work in Hong Kong. 

Each application is assessed on its own merits, and applications for an employment visa are scrutinized closely to determine whether or not a local resident could fulfill the requirements of the job concerned.

The Immigration Department has comprehensive information about how to apply for an employment visa.

Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS)

Under Hong Kong’s TechTAS program, approved technology companies can sponsor workers needed for research and development purposes for fast-tracked 12-month visas.

For information about the TechTAS program, visit the Immigration Department’s website.

Visas for Entrepreneurs

Persons wishing to enter Hong Kong to establish or join in business should apply for a visa to enter for investment as an entrepreneur.

Applicants must submit information such as a business plan, profit-and-loss forecasts, financial records and information about funding; the application will be assessed on whether the individual is in a position to make a substantial contribution to the economy of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 

Applicants may also apply for a visa to establish or join a startup that is supported by a government-backed program (such as InvestHK’s StartMeUpHK Venture Programme or one of the incubator programs run by Cyberport or the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation).

For more information about applying to enter for investment as an entrepreneur, visit the Immigration Department’s website.

Dependent Visas

Spouses and unmarried dependent children under the age of 18 should apply for and obtain residency visas.

The dependent visa will allow them to work in Hong Kong. Since 2018, Hong Kong allows same-sex partners who are in a civil partnership or civil union that is legally recognized by local authorities to enter as dependents. 

Employment visas are generally initially granted to US passport holders for two years, and dependent visas are normally valid for the same period. If you and your family need to extend your visas, apply for extensions one month before the expiry dates.

Permanent Residency

Foreign passport holders and their families can apply for “permanent resident” status and the associated “right to land” endorsement.

To qualify, you must have lived in Hong Kong for a continuous period of no less than seven years. When you apply, you must provide evidence of having lived in Hong Kong for seven years, including tax returns, old passports and letters from employers. Persons with the right to land can freely enter the HKSAR to live, study and work without any restriction, and do not have to give up their foreign passports.

Those who have lived in Hong Kong unlawfully, been deported or contravened their permitted length of stay are disqualified from “permanent resident” status.

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