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Hong Kong Work Visa and Employment Visa for Expats

As an employer, are you trying to assist your expat staff applying for a work visa in Hong Kong? Navigating the process can be complex, but understanding the routes, eligibility criteria, application procedure, processing time, and post-approval considerations can make the process smoother.


Whether you're just beginning to explore the idea of hiring an expat in Hong Kong or are already in the midst of the application process, this guide aims to provide you with the essential information you need to navigate the intricacies of obtaining a Hong Kong work visa.

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What Are the Routes to Apply for a Hong Kong Work Visa?

Applying for a Hong Kong work visa can be pursued through different routes. The main routes are through the General Employment Policy (GEP) and the Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP), each offering specific pathways for work visa applicants.


Another route for individuals seeking to work in Hong Kong is the Training Visa, which is designed for bringing in individuals to receive training in Hong Kong.


General Employment Policy (GEP)

The General Employment Policy (GEP) serves as a prominent avenue for securing a Hong Kong work visa, offering skilled professionals the opportunity to contribute to the local workforce through employment with sponsoring companies.


Individuals who possess unique skills, valuable knowledge, or exceptional experience that is not easily accessible within Hong Kong may seek employment through the GEP. However, it's important to note that Chinese residents of the Mainland of China are not eligible to apply for the GEP.


Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)

The Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP) presents another viable pathway for Chinese residents of the mainland China to obtain a work visa in Hong Kong, catering to professionals with sought-after skills and expertise. The eligibility criteria between GEP and ASMTP are generally the same.


What Are the Eligibility Criteria for a Hong Kong Work Visa?

To apply for a work visa in Hong Kong under the GEP and ASMTP, applicants and employers are typically required to meet the following criteria:

  • The applicant should have a clean record without any known history of serious criminal offenses or security objections.

  • The applicant should have a strong educational background, typically holding a first degree in the relevant field. However, in special cases, exceptional technical qualifications, proven professional abilities, relevant experience, and documented achievements may also be considered.

  • There must be a genuine job vacancy available at the employing company.

  • The applicant must have a confirmed employment offer and be engaged in a job that aligns with their academic qualifications or work experience, which cannot be easily filled by the local workforce.

  • The remuneration package, including salary, accommodation, medical benefits, and other fringe benefits, should be reasonably in line with the prevailing market standards for professionals in Hong Kong.


What Is the Application Procedure for a Hong Kong Work Visa?

The application process for a Hong Kong work visa requires submission of forms and supporting documents from the applicant, as well as specific documents mandated from the prospective employers.


Documents Required from Work Visa Applicant

Prospective applicants may have to submit:

  • Application for Entry for Employment as Professionals in Hong Kong (Form ID 990A)

  • Applicant's recent photograph

  • A photocopy of the applicant's latest valid travel document

  • A photocopy of the applicant's HK ID card/Macao ID card/ household registration in Taiwan and Taiwan ID card (if any)

  • A photocopy of proof of academic qualifications and releveant work experience

  • A photocopy of the applicant's overseas residence


Documents Required from Employers

Employers sponsoring candidates for a Hong Kong work visa are also required to submit:

  • Application for Employing Professionals in Hong Kong (Form ID 990B)

  • A photocopy of the applicant's employment contract or letter of appointment from the company, which includes details about the position, salary, fringe benefits, and employment period.

  • A photocopy of the Business Registration Certificate.

  • A photocopy of financial proof, such as the latest audited financial report, trading profit and loss account, or profit tax return.

  • Documents providing information about the company's background, including business activities, mode of operation, company connections, product ranges, sources and markets, and membership in chamber of commerce (if applicable). These documents should be supported by catalogues, brochures, etc.

  • A detailed business plan that includes information about the source of funds, estimated capital injection, nature and mode of business activities, expected turnover, sales volume, gross and net profit projections for the upcoming years, and proposed creation of local job positions. This requirement is applicable only to companies established within the last 12 months.


Documents Required from Each Accompanying Dependant of Work Visa Applicant

Work visa applicant may also apply to bring their dependants by submitting the following documents:

  • Application for Entry for Employment as Professionals in Hong Kong (ID 990A), with Part B duly completed by the dependant

  • Dependant’s recent photograph

  • A photocopy of the dependant’s latest valid travel document

  • A photocopy of evidence of the applicant’s relationship with the dependants e.g. marriage certificate, birth certificate, family photographs, family letters (with envelopes), census record book and Privilege Card for Single Child (if applicable)

  • A photocopy of proof of the applicant’s overseas residence, such as copy of official documents showing the applicant’s conditions of stay and limit of stay endorsed by overseas authorities


Submitting above documents to addressing the requisites are crucial in avoiding complications during the visa application process and minimizing the risk of refusal.


What Is the Processing Time for a Hong Kong Work Visa?

The standard processing time for work visa applications for employment by The Immigration Department is typically four weeks from the receipt of all required documents. However, the actual processing time may vary depending on the specific circumstances of each application and the volume of applications received at a given time. Based on our experience, some cases may take up to 2-3 months.


Upon approval of the application, the Immigration Department will provide a Visa/Entry Permit label, which the applicant or an authorized representative must collect in person from the immigration office. The label should be affixed to the applicant's passport and be presented to the Immigration Officer upon arrival in Hong Kong.


How Long is the Hong Kong Work Visa valid for?

Generally, an initial stay of 36 months on employment condition, or in accordance with the duration of the employment contract (whichever is shorter), will be granted for the initial Hong Kong Work Visa issued.


What Happens After Obtaining a Hong Kong Work Visa?

Upon securing a Hong Kong work visa, employers may need to consider several subsequent steps, including initiating the visa renewal process when the visa expires, terminating visa sponsorship once the work visa holder resigns, or assisting staff in applying for Hong Kong Permanent Residency after a designated period of stay in Hong Kong.


Extension of Stay with Visa Renewal

As the expiration of the current work permit approaches, individuals should submit an application for an extension of stay in the HKSAR at least four weeks in advance. The Immigration Department will assess these applications based on the applicants' continued compliance with the eligibility criteria of the GEP. If the application is approved, the extension of stay granted will generally follow a pattern of 3-2 years, taking into consideration the employment conditions or the duration specified in the employment contract, whichever is shorter.


Changing Employers by Terminating of Visa Sponsorship

The Hong Kong work visa issued is exclusively linked to the current sponsoring employer and cannot be transferred to a new employer. If a work visa holder resigns and wishes to change jobs within Hong Kong, they must first seek approval from the Hong Kong Immigration Department by filing an application for a Change of Visa Sponsorship. Once the application is approved, the applicant must surrender their current work visa. The application must be approved by the Immigration Department before starting new employment. Additionally, the current employer must also terminate their visa sponsorship with the Immigration Department.


Applying for a Hong Kong Permanent Residency

Once a work visa holder have been under the employment for professionals scheme and have resided continuously in Hong Kong for a minimum period of seven years, you become eligible to apply for Permanent Residence, i.e. the Right of Abode in Hong Kong. The application process is contingent upon meeting the necessary criteria.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs a visa for Hong Kong for employment and training?

In general, individuals who do not possess the right of abode or right to land in Hong Kong are required to obtain a visa prior to their arrival in Hong Kong for purposes such as studying, employment, training, investment, or residence, regardless of their nationality, job position, or length of stay.


Can I change jobs while on a Hong Kong Work Visa?

Yes, it is possible to change jobs while holding a Hong Kong Work Visa. However, you will be required to apply for a new working visa since the current visa is non-transferable. The process for applying for a new Hong Kong work visa will be the same as when you initially applied.


What happens if my Hong Kong Work Visa expires?

If your Hong Kong Work Visa expires and you wish to continue working in Hong Kong, employer will need to apply for a visa extension or a new visa. It is crucial to renew your visa before it expires to avoid any legal consequences.


Are there any restrictions or limitations on a Hong Kong Work Visa?

As a foreign worker, you are only allowed to work for the specific employer and in the job position stated on your work visa. You are also not allowed to engage in any other paid or unpaid work without prior approval from the Hong Kong Immigration Department.


What are the common reasons for Work Visa rejection?

Based on our experience, common reasons for work visa rejection include insufficient documentation, inability to meet the eligibility criteria, or inadequate demonstration of the company’s need for the applicant's skills.


Can You Bring Your Family to Hong Kong on a Work Visa?

If you are granted a work visa in Hong Kong, you can bring your spouse and children under the age of 18 to Hong Kong as dependants. They will need to apply for a dependant visa, which will allow them to live and study in Hong Kong but not work.


What Happens if You Lose Your Job in Hong Kong?

If you lose your job in Hong Kong, your work visa will become invalid. You will need to find a new job and have your new employer apply for a new work visa on your behalf. If you are unable to find a new job, you will need to leave Hong Kong before your visa expires.


Conclusion

In conclusion, obtaining a work visa in Hong Kong can be a complex process for expat staff. However, with a clear understanding of the routes, eligibility criteria, application procedure, processing time, and post-approval considerations, employers can navigate this process more smoothly. It is important to adhere to the regulations and requirements to avoid complications during the visa application process. If you have any further questions or need assistance, please don't hesitate to get in touch with our HR & Payroll Outsourcing Team.


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