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Most visitors can stay in Hong Kong visa-free for a limited amount of time, ranging from seven days to 180 depending on citizenship. Tourist visas are needed for citizens of certain countries, including Afghanistan, Vietnam and Congo. The Immigration Department maintains a full list of which visitors need visas and how long visa-free periods last.
Individuals who wish to take up residence in Hong Kong or stay beyond their visa-free limit need to get a visa. Employers can be fined up to 350,000 Hong Kong dollars (about US$45,000) and employees up to HK$50,000 if workers lack appropriate permits. Those with visas, and over the age of 11, are given a Hong Kong government ID card, which establishes residency and gives access to benefits, such as using the public health-care system. One must register for a Hong Kong ID card at the immigration department within 30 days of visa activation. Appointments to get an ID card can be booked online.
Here is a breakdown of visa options for expatriates:
In order to obtain an employment visa, companies must sponsor foreign nationals to work for them and apply for employment visas on their employees’ behalf. This type of visa generally takes four-to-six weeks to process. The length of the visa is dependent on the employee’s contract. Visa holders can stay for the duration of their visa, even if their employment is terminated before the visa expiration date.
This visa is geared toward those looking to open a business in Hong Kong. Applicants must submit a detailed two-year business plan and have enough capital to keep the business afloat for the first six months. Fees to apply for the visa can add up to HK$749; the visa itself costs $HK160. Investment visas expire after two years, but holders can apply for an additional two years, then another three years.
Businessmen can also attain this visa as part of the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, where they invest HK$10 million in Hong Kong to gain residency in the city. As part of a October 2010 change to the scheme, investments in real estate are exempt from the HK$10 million, which was also raised from the previous threshold of HK$6.5 million. But other investments that qualify include equities, debt securities, certificates of deposits and subordinated debt. The government doesn’t cap the number of investment visas it gives out a year.
Dependents, which include spouses and children under the age of 18, can move to Hong Kong with an expatriate employee or investor. Dependent applications must be submitted at the same time as the sponsor’s visa paperwork. Dependents are able to live, study and work in Hong Kong. Unmarried partners, including gay couples, are ineligible for dependent visas. They might be able to qualify for a prolonged visitor visa if they can prove they were in a relationship for an extended period before moving to Hong Kong, but these visas are difficult to obtain.
After seven years of living in Hong Kong, expatriates can become permanent residents. Perks for becoming a permanent resident include social benefits that locals have, such as public housing, assistance payments and priority in public schools. In order to qualify for permanent residency, foreign nationals need to have stayed in Hong Kong for a continuous seven years. If one traveled for a month outside Hong Kong within a seven-year period, then he or she needs to have resided in Hong Kong for at least seven years and one month. Permanent residents aren’t required to give up their passports or other citizenships.
For further information on the requirements, procedures, time frames and costs for Hong Kong visa and residency application, you are welcome to contact Tannet anytime, anywhere by simply visiting Tannet’s website www.tannet-group.net, or calling at 86-755-82143422, or email at email@example.com.
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