It’s notoriously difficult for companies to obtain work visas in Hong Kong, as the country typically fills vacancies with local professionals. However, knowing the right qualifications and doing the proper research will help you demonstrate that your employees are well-qualified for the job. Plus, the visa application process in the country is free, which is a benefit for many companies.
Types of work visas in Hong Kong
Most people moving to Hong Kong for a job apply for a work visa under the General Employment Policy (GEP). These types of visas are usually issued only for a specific period. To be eligible, candidates must have a confirmed job offer with an employer who is sponsoring them.
As of December 28, 2022, Hong Kong expanded opportunities for international employees to work or start a business in Hong Kong through the Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS). This scheme is available to nationals from all countries except Afghanistan, Cuba, Laos, North Korea, Vietnam, and Nepal. Applicants are not required to have a job offer or business plan and may apply under one of the following categories:
- Their annual income is HKD 2.5 million or more.
- They hold a degree from one of the top 100 universities in the world and have 3 years of work experience over the previous 5 years.
- They hold a degree from one of the top 100 universities in the world and do not have 3 years of work experience. This category is subject to an annual quota of 10,000 applicants and does not apply to international workers who completed their undergraduate program in Hong Kong.
Applicants may submit dependent visas for eligible family members.
Some other common Hong Kong work permits include the following:
- General Employment Policy (GEP): This is the most common work visa. It is for professionals who possess special skills, knowledge or experience of value that is not readily available in Hong Kong. This visa is quota free and does not apply to Chinese residents of the Mainland and nationals of Afghanistan, Cuba and Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of).
- Adminission scheme for mainland talents and professionals: This work visa is for Chinese residents of the Mainland China who possess special skills, knowledge or experience of value that is not readily available in Hong Kong.
- Technology talent admission scheme: This work visa is for professionals who specialize in certain technology sectors, including artificial intelligence and financial technologies. Eligible companies will first need to apply for a quota.
- Training: The training option is a work visa for individuals who are looking to learn a skill or gain specific knowledge and want to live in Hong Kong for up to a year.
- Quality migrant admission scheme: Expats from certain professions can relocate to Hong Kong using this visa. The program has 4,000 slots for IT, financial, legal, and creative individuals who do not have an existing job offer.
- Immigration arrangements for non-local graduates: This visa is for people with a degree from Hong Kong. Within 6 months of graduation, they can apply to stay in the city for up to a year to look for local employment.
Requirements to obtain Hong Kong work visas
If your employees are applying for a Hong Kong work permit under the GEP, they need to include a statement from you describing the position. The Immigration Department will assess the application for:
- A graduate degree
- Necessary professional experience
- Salary and working conditions comparable to local standards
- Contribution to the local economy
- Lack of a local to fill the particular position
Sometimes it’s difficult for companies to prove that they couldn’t find a local to fill a position, especially if they’re recruiting individuals from around the world. That said, the immigration authorities typically accept the proof they receive.
If your employees have family they would like to bring to Hong Kong, they’ll need to meet additional requirements. For example, employees must prove that they have a legal marriage and dependent children under the age of 18. They need to show that they can financially support a family and provide the right accommodations. If a spouse wants to work in Hong Kong as well, they can do so through an extra work permit.
First, employees need to fill out the right application form for their requested visa and attach all the required documents. If the documents are in any other language besides English or Chinese, the employee must provide a translation. They will also need a valid travel document from their home country.
Applications can be mailed or handed in personally. They can go either directly to the Hong Kong Immigration Department or the nearest Chinese mission. If your international employee lives in Mainland China, they can submit their visa application in Beijing at the Hong Kong government’s office. Another option is to file the application through a local sponsor, such as a prospective employer.
As of December 2022, Hong Kong’s Immigration Department expanded its online application filing option to all visa types. Applications can still be mailed in or delivered in person if preferred.
Other important considerations
While the typical employment visa is valid only in the short term, employees can get an extension once it expires. They should apply at least 4 weeks before the expiration date. Most employment visas will follow a 2-3-3 year extension pattern. The only exception is a fixed employment contract that runs out before the visa expires, in which the extension will be shortened accordingly.
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