• published on 8/22/2023
  • 5min

Getting a visa for Hong Kong

Learn about the different visa types, document requirements, and expert tips for a seamless transition to Hong Kong.

Getting a visa for Hong Kong

Hong Kong is consistently ranked among the world's most vibrant and dynamic cities, attracting a diverse pool of global talent. With its business-friendly environment, excellent infrastructure, and high quality of life, Hong Kong presents a highly desirable destination for expatriates, international students, and business professionals from around the world.

Outside of work, Hong Kong maintains a high quality of life with safe communities, generous public services, and natural escapes within easy reach. This unique value proposition cements its status as a favoured living and learning destination in the region.

Obtaining the right to work, seek education or live in Hong Kong starts with securing the appropriate entry visa. This guide provides an overview of the main visa categories to help navigate eligibility requirements and application processes.

For employees

Hong Kong has a thriving job market with plenty of work opportunities across various industries. As a global financial centre, the city attracts multinational corporations from around the world, meaning job prospects are abundant. Professionals in finance, business, tech and more can find high-paying positions.

For individuals eyeing Hong Kong as their career destination, the most common route is the General Employment Policy (GEP), usually granted for a specific duration, contingent upon a confirmed job offer sponsored by an employer. Applications for a visa or entry permit under the GEP visa normally take around four weeks to process from the time all required documents are received.

In late 2022, Hong Kong introduced the Top Talent Pass Scheme (TTPS) to attract top professionals with good academic qualifications and rich work experience. In contrast to the GEP, the TTPS does not mandate employer sponsorship prior to entry. However, applicants must meet criteria like an annual income of HKD 2.5 million or graduating from the world’s top 100 universities with at least three years of work experience. If they meet any of these requirements, they may be granted a 24-month stay without other restrictions on their conditions, allowing them time to seek employment opportunities in Hong Kong.

There are several other prominent Hong Kong work visa categories that exist:

  • Training Visa: Hong Kong offers a training visa allowing employees to receive specialised skills development. As a work permit sub-category, it facilitates 6-12 month stays for training relating to current roles or student internships with certain criteria.

  • Quality Migrant Admission Scheme: Highly-skilled migrants from designated professional sectors including finance, IT and creative roles can relocate to Hong Kong through this program which reserves a maximum of 1,000 slots per year. Successful applicants compete for quotas under this selective pathway to accessing long-term residency and capitalising on Hong Kong's business environment—without immediate employment sponsorship.

  •  Technology Talent Admission (TechTAS) Scheme: The TechTAS permit provides a fast-track entry for qualifying companies to hire foreign talents from eligible areas like artificial intelligence, biotech, cybersecurity, fintech and more. The scheme streamlines admission for specialised skills in technologies like AI, blockchain, semiconductors and green tech to support Hong Kong's innovation economy.

For entrepreneurs

 Hong Kong's status as an international hub makes it an ideal base to do business in Asia. With its business-friendly regulations and low tax rates, many businesses choose to establish regional headquarters in Hong Kong.

 The country presents an avenue for aspiring foreign entrepreneurs to establish businesses in the country through the Entry for Investment visa program. Essential to the application is a 2-year business plan, crucial in persuading authorities that the business will indeed positively impact Hong Kong's economy.

 Although no fixed investment minimum is mandated for the visa, authorities carefully evaluate the applicant's business plan to gauge the adequacy of the proposed investment for the intended business setup. The visa holder can bring their spouse and children below 18, and the possibility of applying for Hong Kong permanent residence exists over time. Initially granted for one year, the visa is extendable contingent upon the business's continued viability.

For students

Living in Hong Kong provides access to a world-class higher education system. The country is renowned for its exceptional universities that consistently rank amongst the finest in Asia and globally. According to the Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings, four Hong Kong universities placed within the top 20 in the region. Multiple others were also listed in the top 100.

To obtain a Student Visa in Hong Kong, international students must secure sponsorship from either their admitting institution or a private individual. Supporting documents are then submitted, such as proof of acceptance.

Student visas granted duration of stay aligned with academic program length. Full-time students on accredited post-secondary courses may remain for up to six years. Other programs permit one year or study period, whichever is shorter.

For dependants

Once you secure your own visa to live in Hong Kong, you may sponsor visas for your dependants such as a spouse, unmarried children under 18, and in some cases parents or grandparents.

This enables dependants to live, work and study in Hong Kong for the same period as the primary visa holder's approved length of stay. It provides a convenient pathway for accompanying family relocation when the principal applicant is stationed in Hong Kong long-term.

Working Holiday Visa

The Working Holiday scheme facilitates meaningful cultural understanding and relationship-building between Hong Kong and partner nations by enabling extended youth mobility, employment, and interpersonal exchange experiences overseas.

The visa allows citizens aged 18-30 from Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Sweden, and the UK to live and undertake temporary training or employment in Hong Kong for up to 24 months.

Most visa holders can work for the same employer for up to 3 months, though some nationalities have longer limits of 6-12 months. During their stay, visa holders can explore life in Hong Kong and immerse themselves in the local culture, while being able to earn income to financially support themselves abroad.

Key application tips

The application process can be complex, but with ample lead time and document readiness, you can successfully navigate Hong Kong's visa system. Keep these tips in mind:

  • Allow plenty of processing time at least 2 to 3 months for work visas. Applications must be completed on time.

  • Gather all required documents such as proof of employment, education acceptance, funds, etc. Incomplete applications will be rejected.

  • Be aware of financial requirements, like minimum income thresholds for some work visas.

  • Understand if you need visa sponsorships and employer support. For some visa types, you can't apply independently.

  • Disclose any past visa refusals for Hong Kong or other countries.

  • If eligible, consider applying for multi-entry permits to make travel easier.

With the right visa secured well in advance, you can look forward to making Hong Kong your home.

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