How to Apply for Working Visa in Hong Kong

Although the common arrangement among expatriates, especially in higher positions is through internal company transfer. However, this does not mean applying for Hong Kong visa becomes a mere formality. Hong Kong Immigration Department requires a justification as to why a foreigner — and not a local resident — is being offered the job.

This means the working visa application still requires, besides the standard form, supporting documents such as, but not limited to, company’s financial records, curriculum vitae and professional certifications of the applicant. The company applying for the visa may also be required to show a local job advertisement and submitted applications of local candidates that did not fit the requirements, hence the necessity to recruit overseas talent.

With a rapid increase in the workforce in Hong Kong obtaining a work visa is becoming increasingly difficult. But don’t let the difficulty dishearten you because no matter what Hong Kong continues to remain the highest employer of expats. Here are a few things you need to know to apply for a work visa in Hong Kong.

  • If you have been offered work while you are already in Hong Kong then you can apply for a work visa.
  • The chances of questions being asked by the Immigration department in such a case are rare.
  • In order to activate the visa you need to leave and then re-enter Hong Kong.
  • On receiving the job offer from the company, it will cooperate with you in applying for a Hong Kong Visa.

The Hong Kong Immigration Service is an extremely professional organization. It works on visa applications for 7 to 8 weeks on an average with some delays as times. Here is the list of various criteria taken into account by the Immigration Office in order to decide whether your application is accepted or rejected.

  • You must have a graduate degree. If you don’t have that then you must have significant technical expertise in any field.
  • You must have relevant experience in the field in which you have applied for a job.
  • The bottom threshold for the salary that you must be offered is HK$20,000 (US$2,580). If your salary doesn’t match the local professional standards chances are that your application will be rejected.
  • The company hiring you has to present proof of why they are hiring you instead of a local by stating that you have a skill that is in short supply in the city.
  • Your job must be able contribute to the local economy. It could be translated as generating jobs for locals, paying tax to the government and other relevant contributions.

Processing of working visa application could take six to eight weeks — longer if the Immigration Department has additional inquiries. Such inquiries may include company background, its financial status, proportion of locals hired compared with foreign workers, and so on.

Once your Hong Kong visa is granted, Immigration will send you a stamp to stick into your passport which needs to be validated on entry to Hong Kong. This means you need to exit Hong Kong and re-enter to get the visa, now stamped in your passport, validated. For those who just wish to spend as less time as possible, Macau is just an hour away by ferry so it is a popular option to exit to.

If the worker resigns from work, the new employer will apply for his or her working visa, which effectively updates immigration records on the worker’s status.

A Hong Kong work visa is typically granted for a period of 6-12 months. Extensions are typically given in 2-year increments up to the point where the worker has accrued seven consecutive years of employment. The worker can then apply for permanent residency, which effectively grants him or her the right of abode to Hong Kong. Upon approval of permanent residence status, among the benefits the worker enjoys is that he or she no longer requires a working visa to get employment.

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