Guide to Employment Visa in Hong Kong

15 minute read

Hong Kong is a great region when it comes to doing business. The authorities have created a great work environment, the taxing system is among the best in the world, and the region is quite diverse, which is great for foreign companies.

All of these and many more beneficial factors just make the whole place even more attractive to businessmen from all around the globe.

If you have agreed on terms with your future Hong Kong

employer, you can rest assured that the trickiest part is behind you. But, there is one more thing to take care of. Your employment visa has to be sorted out.

Fortunately, this process is not difficult at all in Hong Kong. Keep reading to find out everything that is of importance to anyone looking to get an employment visa in Hong Kong.


What is an employment visa?

The region of Hong Kong has a special work permit scheme in place when employers want to hire foreign talent to fill various positions. This scheme is called Employment for Professionals. Workers (visa applicants) need to possess decent educational qualifications, a specific set of skills, and knowledge or experience of value in Hong Kong to acquire this permit.

The best bit about this is that Hong Kong authorities did not issue a quota system. In other words, the number of employment visas in Hong Kong is not limited!

This kind of visa is issued for one year period. It is renewable following the end of the permit duration.

Do I need a visa to work in Hong Kong?

Considering that this question is one of the more common questions that foreigners have regarding life in Hong Kong, it is worth answering it once again.

Yes, as a foreigner, one must obtain a work permit (visa) to work legally in Hong Kong. This practice is no different from any other region in the world.

An individual arriving in Hong Kong needs to apply for a work visa under the General Employment Policy (GEP). Every country and every region governed by a legitimate authority has this kind of law. All foreign employees have to go through this process. The Immigration Department is the authority handling work permits in Hong Kong.

Requirements to apply

In order to successfully apply and acquire a Hong Kong work visa, bear in mind the following criteria:

  • The applicant should already have secured a job offer! This needs to happen before the visa application is submitted.
  • One should have valuable qualifications and relevant working experience in the field. The Department usually allows individuals with unique qualifications that are not readily available in Hong Kong easier access to the permit.
  • The applying individual should be placed in a management-level job position and the salary offered should be met with the market rate.
  • The employer (company) needs to be financially stable.
  • Also, the company should have local employees along with an office that has already been set up.

How do I get a work visa for Hong Kong?

In order to acquire a work visa for Hong Kong, applicants need to complete application form ID 990A.

The companies looking to hire the applicants also need to complete a form. The form in question is form ID 990B.

These application forms can be found at the following offices (free of charge):

  • Immigration Department Headquarters
  • Immigration Branch Offices
  • Overseas Chinese Diplomatic and Consular Missions
  • HKSAR Government offices outside of Hong Kong

To download the forms from the Department’s official website, visit

When it comes to the entire required documentation and supporting documentation, the applicant needs to submit:

  1. Application for Entry for Employment as Professionals in Hong Kong (ID 990A).
  2. Photo.
  3. Photocopy of the applicant’s valid travel document containing personal details (date of issue, date of expiry, etc.).
  4. Photocopy of the applicant’s HKID.
  5. A photocopy of the academic records, certificates, or supporting letter from the degree-awarding institution.
  6. A photocopy of qualifications proof (and work experience if possible).
  7. A letter of consent from the applicant’s present working unit.

Employing companies need to submit the following documentation:

  1. The application for employing professionals in HK (ID 990B).
  2. A photocopy of the company’s contract with the letter of appointment to the applicant.
  3. The Business Registration Certificate copy.
  4. A photocopy of financial standing proof (statements or financial reports).
  5. Documents containing company details and background.
  6. A detailed business plan (for companies not older than 12 months).

How long does HK work visa take?

Applications submitted under the IANG by foreign fresh graduates take about two weeks to process upon receipt of all the required documents.

It usually takes four weeks to process the permit for employment. Bear in mind that the Immigration Department cannot start the processing without all the required documentation! Also, the director of Immigration reserves absolute discretion rights to reject any application! This can happen even if the application meets all the requirements.

Other methods

Let’s take a look at other admission schemes that you could make use of along with the concept of working holidays in Hong Kong.

The following schemes are covered below:

  • Admission schemes for talent
  • Admission schemes for professionals
  • Admission schemes for entrepreneurs
  • Working holidays

Admission schemes for talent

Foreign technology talent may apply to work in Hong Kong under TechTAS. TechTAS provides a fast-track arrangement for eligible companies to admit non-local technology talent to undertake research and development (R&D) work for them in Hong Kong.

Eligible companies first need to apply for a quota. A company allotted with a quota by the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) can sponsor an eligible person to apply for an employment visa within the 12-month quota validity period.

However, there are certain requirements under TechTAS that include:

  • The employing company has to obtain a valid quota approved by ITC at the time of application.
  • Applicants should be principally engaged in conducting R&D in the areas of artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity, data analytics, financial technologies, material science, robotics, 5G communications, digital entertainment, green technology, integrated circuit design, Internet-of-Things or microelectronics.
  • Applicants should hold a degree in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) from a well-recognized university.
  • Remuneration shall not be lower than the prevailing market level for comparable jobs in Hong Kong.
  • Applicants should meet the specific particulars pertaining to the job position set out in the quota allotment letter issued by ITC.

Admission schemes for professionals

Individuals that possess certain skill sets or valuable work experience from overseas (Taiwan and Macao included) can apply for work in Hong Kong under the GEP.

There are no sector restrictions. But, there are three major requirements.

  • An applicant needs to secure a job relevant to their academic qualifications or work experience that cannot be readily taken up by the local workforce.
  • The remuneration package needs to commensurate with the prevailing market rate.
  • An applicant should have a good educational background, technical qualifications or proven professional experience.

The government has also launched various enhancement measures including:

  1. A relaxed pattern of an individual’s stay’s duration from ‘1+2+2+3’ years to ‘2+3+3’ years.
  2. Relaxed eligible top-tier entrants’ pattern of the duration of stay from ‘1+2+2+3’ years to ‘2+6’ years; on time limitation with no other conditions of stay upon extension.

Admission schemes for entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs from abroad (Taiwan and Macao included) who have intentions of establishing or joining a business in Hong Kong can also apply for an employment visa Hong Kong under the GEP.

Major requirements include:

  • Decent educational background, technical qualifications, or proven professional experience.
  • An applicant should be able to make a significant contribution to the economy of the HKSAR.

The authorities have launched various enhancement measures recently:

When assessing applications, consider the following factors:

  • Business plan
  • Business turnover
  • Financial resources
  • Investment sum
  • Number of jobs created locally
  • Introduction of new technology or skills

Applications will be favorably considered for start-up entrepreneurs who plan to establish or join in a start-up business supported by a government-backed program such as:

  • InvestHK’s StartmeupHK Venture Programme
  • Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation’s Incu-App, Incu-Bio and Incu-Tech programs
  • Cyberport Incubation Programme
  • Innovation and Technology Commission’s Small Entrepreneur Research Assistance Programme and Enterprise Support Scheme
  • Hong Kong Design Centre’s Design Incubation Programme

Working Holidays Scheme

The authorities have designed this scheme with the aim to facilitate cultural and educational exchange between Hong Kong and other countries. All of this is done with the intention of strengthening bilateral relationships.

National passport holders aged between 18 and 30 of the participating country, who are ordinarily residing in their home country and whose main intention is to enjoy the holiday time are more than welcome in Hong Kong.

Now, the most important bit is that under the propositions of the Scheme, visitors may take up short-term employment or a short training course while they are enjoying holidays in Hong Kong.

Also bear in mind that there will be an annual quota for individuals of each participating country and qualified applications will be approved on a first-come-first-served basis. In order to be granted a Working Holiday visa, an individual needs to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • An individual holds a valid national passport issued by the participating country and is ordinarily residing in that participating country.
  • Their primary intention is to spend holiday time in Hong Kong.
  • The person has to be aged between 18 and 30.
  • An individual should be able to produce financial proof of having an amount sufficient for their maintenance during their proposed stay in the HKSAR (e.g. bank statement, saving accounts passbooks, etc.).
  • An individual holds a return air ticket or financial proof of having sufficient funds to purchase a return air ticket.
  • The person agrees to hold medical, healthcare (including hospitalization), repatriation and liability insurance to remain in force throughout their stay in the HKSAR.

Wrap Up

Now that you have some basic insights and the most important tips on how you should handle the acquisition of your employment visa in Hong Kong, make sure to revise this guide once again and you are good to go.

As you can see, as long as you meet all the criteria, you should be able to get the employment visa easily.

If there are any uncertainties regarding work permits and other kinds of Hong Kong visas/ permits, feel free to reach out to Sleek!

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