Getting a visa can be a tricky and tedious process, and nobody likes to fill in one form after another. Our guide will help you to determine which visa best suits your needs and the steps to apply for a travel, study, work, or dependent visa in Hong Kong.
As one of the most popular tourist destinations and international cities in Asia, citizens in many countries do not need to apply for a visa to stay in Hong Kong. If you are a citizen or permanent resident of USA, Canada, or Australia, you can enter Hong Kong for up to 90 days and 180 days for UK and New Zealand nationals.
Simply fill in the entry card and present to the immigration at the airport. Remember to keep the returned copy. If you have lost your entry card during your stay in Hong Kong, you will be asked to fill in a new one.
Under new immigration policy and law, British citizens must apply for a separate visa if they wish to reside, study, or work in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Immigration Department has an updated list of their immigration policy for UK nationals here.
If you are admitted to a full time post-secondary programme accredited by an institution in Hong Kong, for example, The University of Hong Kong, then you must apply for a study visa. You will also need a study visa if you are admitted to these programmes:
- Short courses accredited by an institution in Hong Kong
- Part time, taught postgraduate programmes accredited by a Hong Kong institution
- Exchange in a full time sub degree (e.g. Associates) programme that is locally accredited for not more than 6 months
- Exchange in full time accredited local and non-local undergraduate or postgraduate programmes for not more than a year
- Full time courses in non-local higher education or professional courses set up under Non-Local and Higher and Professional Education.
This also applies to children aged 5 years 8 months to 11 years old for primary education and children aged below 20 for secondary education.
Be sure to provide photocopies of your admission letter, which confirms your admission to the courses, valid travel document, financial support, (e.g. bank statement) and a recent photo with the completed Form ID 995A. In the form, you will be asked to provide estimates of your living costs and financial situation to show that you can meet your fees for your programme and stay in Hong Kong.
If you are sponsoring your child(ren) to attend higher education programmes in Hong Kong, you have to complete the sponsor form ID 995B.
Remember to send forms ID 995A, ID 995B, and photocopies of the documents mentioned above to your nearest Chinese consulate if you are applying overseas, or by mail to Receipt and Despatch Sub-Unit, Hong Kong Immigration Department, 2/F Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong. It will typically take 6 weeks to process.
There are 2 types of employment visas: visas for non-local graduates (IANG) and employment visa for non-locals under the General Employment Policy (GEP).
If you move to Hong Kong for work, then you will need an employment visa under GEP and the same applies to individuals traveling to Hong Kong in short periods due to work-related reasons, e.g. trade shows and training seminars.
Immigration is likely to assess your application on the following factors: any criminal records or security objections, your education and professional experience for your position, your contribution to the local economy, that your salary is comparable to local standards, and the company cannot find a local to fill your position.
The last criterion is usually difficult to prove but a confirmed letter of employment offer can satisfy.
To complete your application, complete Form ID990A, a recent photo, photocopies of travel documents, academic qualifications, (e.g. certificate, transcripts) work experience, (if applicable) and letter of employment offer. Be sure that your employer also completes Form ID 990B and its documents, including an employment contract, business plan, and business registration.
Employment visas take around 6-8 weeks to process and are valid until the end of your employment contract. It is possible to change jobs when you receive your visa provided that you continue to fulfil the criteria of GEP and are employed in jobs relevant to your expertise.
Non-locals who graduate from locally accredited programmes in Hong Kong or submit applications to the Immigration Department within 6 months of their graduation from locally accredited programmes have up to one year to find work in Hong Kong.
Returning non-local graduates who submit applications after 6 months of their graduation date will require an employment visa to work in Hong Kong, which is the same as GEP.
Married spouses, partners, parents over 60, and children under 18 can apply for dependent visas under IANG, GEP, and study visas for full time students. The visa is assessed upon relationship between dependent and sponsors; if the sponsor can provide suitable living and accommodations for dependent(s) and if there are criminal records.
Complete Form ID 997 with a recent photo, photocopies of passport, proof of relationship, (e.g. marriage certificate, birth certificate, census records) and HKID (if possible), as well as rental receipts and financial statement from sponsor. Dependent visas take around 6 weeks to process.
How to Apply, Payment, and Re-Entry
Applicants under IANG can apply for a work visa by themselves or through their employer, but applicants under GEP must apply through their employer. If you are overseas, you can send your application to the nearest Chinese diplomat or consulate office, or mail it to Receipt and Despatch Unit, Immigration Department, 2/F, Immigration Tower, 7 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong by your sponsor.
Fees will be collected when you collect your visa, and you can re-enter Hong Kong so long it is within time limit of your visit. However, you will need a separate visa if you are going to China.