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For employers & employees: Work visas in Hong Kong

5 minute read


Hong Kong is an excellent destination to work. You may be eligible for a work visa in Hong Kong if you possess the right combination of skills, experience and qualifications. The Hong Kong government takes interest in work visa applications that look promising enough to contribute to the local economy and society.

Before applying for a Hong Kong work visa, it is crucial to get an offer letter from a company based in Hong Kong. According to the Hong Kong Immigration Department, you should not work in Hong Kong before obtaining a work permit but that does not mean you cannot travel to Hong Kong without obtaining a work visa. You can travel to Hong Kong as a visitor to look for job opportunities. While living in Hong Kong, you can apply for a work visa.

Hong Kong issues work permits under several schemes, depending on the suitability and eligibility as follows:

  • General Employment Policy (GEP)
  • Investment as Entrepreneurs
  • Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)
  • Technology Talent Admission Scheme
  • Capital Investment Entrant Scheme
  • Training
  • Foreign domestic helpers
  • Imported workers

Among the schemes, our clients usually fall under the GEP or Investment as Entrepreneurs.

Eligibility requirements – GEP

You can apply for a work permit in Hong Kong under GEP if:

  • You have a good education qualification, with a relevant degree and experience in the field.
  • You have a clean criminal record
  • You have a job offer
  • The remuneration package offered including income, all benefits, medical and accommodation, is at par with the market level for professionals in Hong Kong.
  • The job vacancy is genuine and the employer presents evidence that the vacancy could not be filled by a local candidate due to unavailability of the required skills.

For employees

An employee must present the following documents for application:

  • Completed application form with a recent photo
  • Copy of Passport with a validity of at least 6 months
  • Proof of academic record such as graduation certificate
  • Proof of relevant work experience

For employers

An employer must present the following documents for application:

  • Completed application form
  • Copy of the business registration certificate
  • Proof of financial standing of the company
  • Copy of the employment contract or letter of appointment including information about the post, remuneration, benefits and employment duration.
  • Documents with details of the company background, such as business activities, operation, products or services, staffing (for company set up more than 1 year)
  • Detailed business plan, with details of estimated capital injection, business activities, expected turnover, proposed creation of local jobs etc. (for company set up within 12 months)

The application process – GEP

  • All necessary documents must be submitted to the Immigration Department in Hong Kong.
  • The Hong Kong Government usually grants work visa for 2 years, which is renewable as long as the person is employed with the same company.
  • The employee must obtain dependent visas for all family members keen to accompany them in Hong Kong.
  • The existing work visa is non-transferable if the employee switches to another job, a new visa must be applied for in that case from the Immigration Department.
  • An employee residing and working in Hong Kong for 7 years can apply for permanent residency.
  • The Immigration Department normally takes 4 weeks to process visa applications and on reviewing the application, they may request additional documents and details to support the application. Hence, the time taken to obtain the visa (if approved) would usually be longer.

Submission of visa application

  • You can submit your visa application to the Immigration Department. You may also do so through the nearest Chinese mission.
  • Visa applications must be mailed or handed personally. The immigration department does not accept visa applications via email or fax.
  • Visa application may be filed through a local sponsor or prospective employer.
  • The processing of work visa application starts after the submission of all relevant documents.
  • Payment of fees should only be made upon collection of visa.

Extension of work visa – GEP

You should apply for an extension of your work visa within four weeks before you complete the approved limit of stay. It is important to present proof of income for salaries tax. You should keep a copy of the latest tax return on salary tax received from the Inland Revenue Department. If you are the company’s sole director and shareholder, you must submit profits tax return. Apart from this, the support of the employer is critical to the extension.

Eligibility requirements – Investment as Entrepreneurs

As you can tell by the name, this scheme is applicable to entrepreneurs who think favourably of HK and having the intention to set up a business in Hong Kong.  Significant amount of investment into the company, in terms of hardware and/or software has to be provided to prove that the applicant can make substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong, like:

  • The business supports overall economic development of Hong Kong
  • The amount of capital investment into the company
  • The number of jobs that can be created locally
  • Introduction of new technology or skills

As an owner of business, if you wish to apply for visa under this scheme, do talk to us to find out more.

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