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Overview of Hong Kong Work Visa Schemes
This guide provides an overview of the various work and business related visa schemes available in Hong Kong. Hong Kong ranks as one of the most business friendly jurisdictions facilitating foreign investment. One of the key contributing factors is its immigration policy, designed to accommodate investors, business entrepreneurs and working professionals alike. The main types of visa schemes for entry into Hong Kong for employment, investment, starting a business and other business/work related purposes include:
- Employment Visa – for foreign individuals who will be employed by a Hong Kong company and will be relocating to Hong Kong; - Investment Visa – for foreign entrepreneurs who wish to start their own business and relocate to Hong Kong; - Capital Investment Entrant Visa – for foreign investors who wish to gain entry for residence in Hong Kong by making a capital investment of HKD 6.5 million (approx. 850K USD) in certain permissible assets, without the need to establish or join in a business; - Quality Migrant Admission Visa – a quota based entrant scheme for foreign persons who wish to enter Hong Kong and explore establishing a business or employment opportunities.
The above mentioned Hong Kong visa schemes, with the exception of the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme, are non-quota specific. In other words, approval of the visa application will be based on the merits of the individual applicant and is not dependant on external factors.
Sections below provide further details on each of the above mentioned visa schemes
Employment Visa Scheme
The Employment Visa is meant for persons who will be employed by a Hong Kong company and residing in Hong Kong. There is no official quota system limiting the number of Employment Visas that can be issued to
a company. The Employment Visa can only be applied after the person has secured an employment with a Hong Kong company. Eligibility: The following individuals are eligible to apply under the Employment Visa scheme. - Foreigners who have graduated from an academic institute in Hong Kong; - Foreigners who graduated overseas and possess special skills, knowledge or experience not readily available in the Hong Kong. Validity: The Employment Visa is normally issued for a one year period and is renewable thereafter (subject to the applicant fulfilling the eligibility criteria). Quota System: No quota system for this category. Each application is considered based on its own merit. Permanent Residence Eligibility: Employment Visa holders are eligible to apply for PR status after having resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of at least seven years. For further details on Employment Visa, refer to Hong Kong Employment Visa guide.
Investment Visa Scheme
The Investment Visa is a form of Employment Visa meant for foreign entrepreneurs who wish to relocate to Hong Kong to start their own business. Under the Investment Visa, foreign entrepreneurs can stay in Hong Kong on employment status under their own company. There is no minimum investment amount stipulated by the authorities when applying for the Investment Visa. Eligibility: Foreign entrepreneurs who wish to join in or establish a business in Hong Kong and who possess a good educational background or good technical qualifications, relevant professional abilities, achievements and experience. The applicant must prove that the business will make a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong. Validity: The Investment Visa is normally issued for a one year period and is renewable thereafter (subject to the applicant fulfilling the eligibility criteria). Quota System: No quota system for this category. Each application is considered based on its own merit. Permanent Residence Eligibility: Investment Visa holders are eligible to apply for PR status after having resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of at least seven years.
Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES)
The Capital Investment Entrant is a Hong Kong migration scheme meant for foreign investors who wish to relocate to Hong Kong by making an investment of HKD 6.5 million (approx. 850K USD) in permissible assets such as real estate and financial assets in Hong Kong. Under this scheme, the applicants are not required to establish or join in a business. Note: Although the CIES scheme is designed for those who do not intend to work in Hong Kong, once you have made the investment of HKD 6.5 million, you are free to take up employment or start your own business, if you so desire. Eligibility: Foreign investors with minimum net assets of HKD 6.5 million that are ready to be invested in permissible investment assets in Hong Kong.
Validity: Residence is granted to successful applicants for an initial two year period which can be further extended to a 2-2 year pattern thereafter, upon continuing to meet the eligibility criteria. Quota System: There is no quota system under this category. Each application is considered based on its own merit. Permanent Residence Eligibility: Capital Investment Visa holders are eligible to apply for PR status after having resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of at least seven years. For further details on Capital Investment Entrant scheme, refer to Hong Kong Capital Investment Visa guide.
Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)
The QMAS is an entrant scheme meant for foreigners who wish to come to Hong Kong to explore employment or business opportunities. The scheme is quota based and operates on a points based system. Successful entrants must take steps to settle in Hong Kong by securing gainful employment or establishing a business during the visa validity period. Eligibility: Foreign nationals who satisfy certain conditions such as a sound financial standing capable of supporting themselves and their dependants, proficiency in Chinese or English, absence of criminal or adverse immigration record, good educational background, falling within the age group of 18-51 years and who also pass a point based test. Validity: Visas issued under the QMAS are usually valid for a one-year period (at the discretion of authorities) and is renewable for one more year. Quota System: Yes. Currently an annual quota of 1000 entrants has been set. Permanent Residence Eligibility: Entrants who have been granted admission under the QMAS are eligible to apply for PR status after having resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of at least seven years. For further details on QMAS scheme, refer to the Hong Kong Quality Migrant Admission Scheme guide.
Other Relevant Visa Schemes
The Training Visa is issued to foreign individuals who wish to enter Hong Kong in order to receive training from a bona fide well established company for a maximum period of up to one year, in order to acquire special skills and knowledge not available in the applicant’s country/territory of domicile. This entry arrangement does not apply to certain nationalities and Chinese residents of the Mainland (other than Mainland employees and business associates of well-established and multinational companies based in Hong Kong).
Business Visit Visa
The business visit visa is not a work visa and is only meant for business executives who need to attend to business matters in Hong Kong. Nationals of more than 170 countries and territories may visit Hong Kong visa-free for a period ranging from 7 days to 180 days. If you are not entitled to the visa waiver or wish to stay beyond the visa-free period you must apply for a visa/entry permit before you travel to Hong Kong.
Applicants who have entered Hong Kong on a visit visa (for business purposes) can undertake the following business-related activities: concluding contracts or submitting tenders; examining or supervising the installation/packaging of goods or equipment; participating in exhibitions or trade fairs (except selling goods or supplying services direct to the general public), settling compensation or other civil proceedings; participating in product orientation; looking for business opportunities; meeting clients or suppliers based in Hong Kong and attending short-term seminars or other business meetings. The applicant will have to furnish proof of his/her proposed business visit to Hong Kong, e.g. invitation letter issued by a local company, letter issued by a trade body to confirm the applicant’s attendance at trade fairs and exhibitions, etc. Individuals who enter Hong Kong on a visit visa meant for business purposes cannot take up any employment whether paid or unpaid, cannot establish or join in any business, and cannot join any educational institution.
The Travel Pass is not a work visa and is meant for foreign business executives who need to frequently travel to Hong Kong for business related matters. The key benefit is that Travel Pass holders can enjoy streamlined immigration clearance procedures as they are allowed to use the Hong Kong Resident counters at the airport (instead of the visitors counter) and the automated passenger clearance system. With the Travel Pass you can make multiple entries to Hong Kong during the validity period and stay for up to two months on each trip.
Eligibility: Frequent business travellers who hold valid passports and are eligible to come to Hong Kong without a visa or entry permit for visit purpose may apply for the Travel Pass. This is subject to the criteria that the applicant has a genuine need to visit Hong Kong frequently, and has previously made three or more visits (other than return from side trips to the Mainland of China or the region of Macau) in the 12-month period prior to making the application, or can reasonably demonstrate to the authorities that the visits will bring benefits to the economy of Hong Kong.
PR China business Visa
From January 1st, 2011, all applications for Business (F) or Working (Z) visas to China should be supported by the "Invitation Letter of Duly Authorized Unit" or "Confirmation Letter of Invitation" instead of the "Visa Notification Form". The "Visa Notification Form" will be void by December 31st, 2010.
Chinese Business Visa (F)
It is required if you intend to participate for up to 6 months in business activities as an employee of an overseas organisation; investigating & establishing a business activity; lecture, study, or attend training (including internships). In some situations overseas businessmen with a need to travel frequently in and out of China over a longer period may be granted a 12 month visa.
To obtain an F visa you must have an invitation letter from a Chinese organisation that you will be dealing with or a reference letter from your employer explaining the purpose of the visit. The inviter should check that their invitation complies with all regulations.
The business visa (F) has over the years been used as a 'catch all' option. Visa issuing offices seem to have been willing to issue them relatively easily and often for longer durations than a tourist visa. It is not permitted to work as an employee of a Chinese business in China while on an F visa (there are a few exceptions such as working for a company funded from overseas), but many people have done so, often with the full knowledge of local officials, but on the other hand some people have been expelled!
1. Applicant's passport with blank pages and at least 6 months validity left before expiration.
2. One truly completed Visa Application Form. If someone else travelling with you shares the same passport, or if you are applying for a visa in a country or territory other than the country of your current nationality, you should fill out the Supplementary Visa Application Form.
3. One recent passport-size colour photo stuck on the application form
4. An "Invitation Letter of Duly Authorized Unit" or "Confirmation Letter of Invitation" prescribing the visa validity, number of entries and stay period.
5. Under some circumstances, the applicants may be required to submit a copy of Chinese hotel reservation
return air ticket booking and financial proof.
How to Apply
You can submit your application to the visa office of Chinese embassies or consulates by yourself, or entrust ABS Company as visa agency to do so on your behalf. The power of attorney is not required. Processing Time: It regularly takes 4 working days for processing the application from the day you visited one of our offices.
China Work Visa (Z)
A work visa is required for persons wanting to work in China for pay and their accompanying family members. It is also issued to aliens who come to China for commercial entertainment performance. It is only granted if you and the employer meet certain requirements. First, the organisation must be accredited to employ foreigners. You must meet the requirements as a 'foreign expert' and the employer must obtain a certificate stating that you comply. The most common employment is teaching English for which the minimum qualifications are stated as having English as a first language and having at least a Bachelors degree. However, there is some flexibility in these requirements so if you can find a willing employer they still have a chance of obtaining approvals for you. The employer will send you a government issued Employment Permit and Visa Notification Letter which you must submit with a photocopies with your application. Family members accompanying an applicant may also apply for a Z visa submitting a 'proof of relationship' instead i.e. their marriage certificate for a spouse, or birth certificate for a child. The visa is valid for only 30 days from the date of arrival during which time you and your employer must seek a Temporary Residence Permit for the duration of your contract, to the minimum of 90 days and the maximum of 12 months.
1. Applicant's valid actual passport with at least six months validity left before expiration and at least one blank page left in it.
2. One truly completed Visa Application Form and the Supplementary Visa Application Form.
3. One recent passport standard photo affixed on the Application Form.
4. "Invitation Letter of Duly Authorized Unit" or "Confirmation Letter of Invitation"
5. Work Permit (one of the following work permits):
Foreign experts, scholars, teachers or managers to be working in Mainland of China should provide the Confirmation Letter for Foreign Experts from the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs of the PRC
Chief Representative of the permanent office of foreign enterprise in PRC should provide the Registration Certificate from the local Administration for Industry and Commerce. Foreigners engaged in offshore petroleum operations in PRC should provide an Invitation Letter issued by China National Offshore Oil Corporation; Foreigners to be engaged in commercial entertainment performance in China should provide the temporary commercial entertainment performance permit from the Ministry of Culture of the PRC. If the band has not more than five members, only the Visa Notification from the Foreign Affairs Office of province, autonomous region or municipality is required. Other foreigners who comes to china for employment should provide the Employment Certificate for Foreigners (Work Permit) issued by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of the PRC.
6. For the accompanying family members, they are not required to provide a Visa Notification Form or a Working Permit; they should provide Proof of Relative Relationship e.g. Marriage Certificate, Birth Certificate, etc.
How to Apply
You can go to the Chinese embassy, consulates or other diplomatic missions in person for visa application. Or entrust ABS Company as visa agency to do so on your behalf. Processing Time: It usually takes 4 working days for processing from the day you visited one of our offices.
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