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Hong Kong practices a very business-friendly and open immigration regime. This means that visitors from over 170 countries/territories can enjoy visa-free entry to Hong Kong, for a period between seven to 180 days. If you’re here as a short-term visitor, you are free to conduct business negotiations, sign contracts and plan to set up a business in Hong Kong. But if you’re planning to live and work in Hong Kong for a longer period of time, you will need to first acquire a visa for foreign nationals before doing so.


Types of Work Visas in Hong Kong

There are the following seven types of work visas available in Hong Kong for foreign nationals, including those from Mainland China:

1. Employment Visa

This comes under what Hong Kong Government calls – General Employment Policy (GEP) (for non-Mainland residents) – Professionals. Under this, professionals from overseas, Taiwan and Macau interested in working in Hong Kong may apply. This scheme which has no sector restriction and key requirements include:

  • The job offer, which cannot be filled by a local, must be relevant to the applicant’s academic qualifications or work experience.
  • His or her remuneration package is commensurate with the prevailing market rate.
  • The applicant must have good technical qualifications and educational background, or relevant work experience.

The normal processing time is four weeks, which starts upon receipt of all the required documents by the Immigration Department of Hong Kong. Do note that this scheme requires that the proposed employee must be sponsored by an employer in Hong Kong.

2. Entrepreneur Visa

This comes under what Hong Kong Government calls – General Employment Policy (GEP) (for non-Mainland residents) – Entrepreneurs. Under this, professionals from overseas, Taiwan and Macau who plan to establish or join a business in Hong Kong may apply. To qualify for an Entrepreneur Visa, the key requirements include:

  • The applicant must have good technical qualifications and educational background, or relevant work experience.
  • The business must be in a position to make a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong.

The application for a Entrepreneur Visa is considered favorably if it is supported by a government-backed program which may be any of the following:

  • Either of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation administered – Incu-App, Incu-Bio and Incu-Tech programs
  • Innovation and Technology Commission administered – Small Entrepreneur Research Assistance Programme and Enterprise Support Scheme
  • Hong Kong Design Centre administered – Design Incubation Programme
  • Cyberport Incubation Programme

While deciding on the Entrepreneur Visa application, some factors to consider include the business plan, business turnover, financial resources, investment sum, number of local jobs created, and what new technology or skills are being introduced by the business.

3. Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS)

This is a three-year pilot scheme for non-local technology talent. It provides a fast-track arrangement for eligible technology organizations to admit such talent for carrying out R&D work.

Under this scheme, eligible organizations first apply for a quota. Once approved and allotted the quota by Hong Kong’s Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC), the organization can sponsor the applicant and apply for a TechTAS visa for the applicant. This visa is issued for validity as specified in the quota allotment letter.

TechTAS applications must fulfill the following key requirements:

  • The employing organization must have a validly approved quota, and the applicant meets the particulars as specified in ITC’s quota allotment letter.
  • The applicant is primarily engaged in R&D in the fields of material science, AI, robotics, cyber-security, biotechnology, data analytics, or FinTech.
  • The applicant’s degree in STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) must be from an international-recognized university.
  • His or her remuneration package is commensurate with the prevailing market rate.

4. Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)

Professionals from Mainland China interested to work in Hong Kong may apply under this scheme, which like GEP, also has no sector restriction. The key requirements include:

  • The job offer, which cannot be filled by a local, must be relevant to the applicant’s academic qualifications or work experience.
  • His or her remuneration package is commensurate with the prevailing market rate
  • The applicant must have good technical qualifications and educational background, or relevant work experience.

5. Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)

This scheme is for highly skilled individuals who are yet to secure a job offer in Hong Kong but are interested to relocate and work in Hong Kong. This scheme also has no sector restriction, which has two points-based tests under it:

  • The first is called the General Points Test, which is for highly skilled or talented persons. They are assessed based on their age, family background, professional qualifications, work experience, and language proficiency.
  • Next is the Achievement-based Points Test, which is for people with outstanding achievements such as an Olympic medal, a Nobel prize, or other reputed national and international awards.

6. Immigration Arrangements for Non-Local Graduates (IANG)

Graduates who are not local can apply under this scheme to stay in Hong Kong for one year for their job search. To qualify, the applicant must have obtained an undergraduate or higher qualification in Hong Kong, by completing a full-time locally accredited program.

In order to meet the population challenges of a declining workforce and an aging population, the Hong Kong Government has:

  • Introduced a pilot scheme to attract the second generation of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents who are living overseas (ASSG)
  • Enhanced and relaxed the stay arrangements for entrants to Hong Kong under the GEP and ASMTP schemes from 1 year to 2 years on employment condition, or following the duration of the employment contract, whichever is shorter. The stay pattern of these entrants has also relaxed from the earlier 2-2-3 years to 3-3 years now or per the duration of the employment contract, whichever is shorter.
  • Enhanced and relaxed the stay arrangements for entrants to Hong Kong under the QMAS. The Government has also tweaked and adjusted the QMAS scoring scheme in a bid to attract professionals with an outstanding educational background and quality overseas work experience.

Moreover, the Government has further enhanced provisions for top-tier GEP and ASMTP entrants (defined below). They may now be granted a 6-year extension of stay on time limitation only, provided they come under the eligibility criteria. Here top-tier entrants are defined as:

  • Those approved the schemes to take up employment in Hong Kong for not less than 2 years, and
  • Those whose assessable income in the previous year of tax assessment for salaries tax was not less than HK$2 million.

7. ASSG or Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents

This recently introduced scheme is for the second generation of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents from overseas, who don’t need a job offer to apply. This scheme also has no sector restrictions. To apply, the key requirements are:

  • The applicant must be between 18-40 years of age and must be born overseas.
  • At least one parent of the applicant must hold a valid Hong Kong permanent identity card. That parent should have also been a Chinese national settled overseas when the applicant was born.
  • The applicant must have good technical qualifications and educational background, or relevant work experience, and must be proficient in either written and spoken Chinese, or in English.

8. Dependant Visa

People who successfully apply for a Hong Kong visa can bring their spouse and dependent children (below t18 years of age) on a Dependent Visa. For this application to be successful, they must show sufficient funds and suitable accommodation for all the Dependant Visa applicants. The duration of a Dependant Visa is the same as the sponsor’s visa, and a Dependant Visa-holder spouse can undertake any lawful employment in Hong Kong.

Importantly, entrants and their dependents may apply for Hong Kong permanent residency after seven years of continuous ordinary residence.


Consult InCorp Group for Hong Kong Work Visa Matters

Most foreign entrepreneurs who set up a business in Hong Kong relocate with their families to the city. The main motivating factors include a high quality of life, world-class health and education services, safety, cosmopolitan lifestyle, availability of a variety of international cuisine, and ease of integration in the local culture due to the local English-speaking population.

Hence, in order to take advantage of all the above, along with the benefits of easy access to Mainland China and an independent and free trade policy, it makes perfect sense to incorporate a company and relocate to Hong Kong, which can be the launch-pad of your operations in the region.

FAQs

What are the 8 types of Work Visas in Hong Kong?

The following are the 8 types of Work Visas in Hong Kong available to foreign nationals and those from Mainland China:

  • Employment Visa
  • Entrepreneur Visa
  • Technology Talent Admission Scheme (TechTAS)
  • Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)
  • Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)
  • Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG)
  • ASSG or Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents
  • Dependant Visa

What are the key requirements to qualify for an Entrepreneur Visa in Hong Kong?

To qualify for a Hong Kong Entrepreneur Visa, the applicant must possess good technical qualifications and educational background, or relevant work experience. Also, the business must make a substantial contribution to the Hong Kong economy.

When can Dependant Visa holders apply for permanent residency in Hong Kong?

Dependant Visa holders and their dependents may choose to apply for Hong Kong permanent residency after 7 years of continuous ordinary residence.

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Guy Man

Guy Man

Director

Corporate Secretarial

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