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Need a Work Visa? Here's What You Need to Work in Hong Kong

hong kong work visa


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To move to Hong Kong for work, you must apply for a work visa under the General Employment Policy (GEP), which has specific eligibility criteria. 

Over the years, Hong Kong has become a kind of business mecca, offering an attractive tax system for corporations, a diverse city life, and a heady mix of high tech and old culture.

For those from mainland China, Hong Kong's proximity offers additional convenience.

When it comes to working in Hong Kong, the toughest part is getting a job.

The competition is high amongst Chinese nationals and foreign transplants, with highly skilled bankers and finance professionals as the most desirable hires.

However, once you've secured a job in Hong Kong what comes next?

What requirements are there for expats to work in Hong Kong? 

Applying for a Hong Kong Work Visa

While the requirements for a Hong Kong visa are comparatively tough, the good news is that if you meet them, the visa application process is quick and free of charge. 

To move to Hong Kong for work, you must apply for a work visa under the General Employment Policy (GEP), which has specific eligibility criteria. 

There are, however, certain qualifications that should be met before applying, these include:

  • Having already secured a position with a financially stable employer based in Hong Kong
  • Presenting unique qualifications and relevant work skills
  • Your offered salary is comparable to local standards
  • The company can show that your position is not fillable by comparable local talent
  • You can demonstrate that you are financially stable

With this type of visa, no quota system limits the number available, so if you have the proper qualifications and a job offer, you're in a good position. 

These visas are issued for one year with the option to renew.

The Application Process

The applicant and the employer must prepare the necessary documents for the work permit application, including a copy of the applicant's valid travel document. 

Once the documents are complete, the application must be submitted to the Hong Kong Immigration Department. It can be submitted in person or by mail. 

Upon approval, the Immigration Department will issue a Visa/Entry Permit label. 

The applicant (or an authorized representative) must collect this label in person from an immigration office.

Affix the Visa/Entry Permit label to a blank visa page in your passport. 

Present your passport with the label to an Immigration Officer upon arrival in Hong Kong. 

Most initial Hong Kong work permit visas are valid for one year. 

If your application is rejected, you can appeal to the authorities.

When your qualifications are lined up, it's time to submit paperwork. 

The hiring company requires a set of paperwork, so be sure they have this lined up. 

An applicant can then visit the Immigration Department Headquarters official website to find and submit the following:

  • ID 990A Visa Application Form
  • Copy of valid passport with personal information
  • Photo
  • Copies of academic records, certifications, and/or relevant work experience
  • Copy of proof of overseas residence

Once all documentation is received, the visa process takes two to four weeks. 

Note: The Director of Immigration has complete authority to reject any application, even if it fulfills all the requirements.

Immigration Arrangements

Obtaining a visa in Hong Kong is also possible through several other pathways, including the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS). 

These include admission schemes for professionals, entrepreneurs, and working holiday holders. We'll examine the requirements for each briefly.

Professionals Working in Hong Kong

For those who possess certain valuable skills or work experience, it is possible to apply to work in Hong Kong under the General Employment Policy.

While there are no restrictions in place as far as job type, there are three requirements that must be fulfilled.

The applicant must have secured a job that is not fillable by local workers, have a good educational background (at least an undergraduate degree, with preference to graduate degrees) or a comparable work experience, and their offered remuneration package must be on par with current market rates. 

Entrepreneur Visa

For those with capital looking to establish a business or join up with an existing business in Hong Kong, an employment visa is available if the applicant meets the following requirements:

  • Proof that they can make a significant contribution to the economy of Hong Kong
  • A strong educational background, business experience, or technical qualifications
  • Special preference will be given to those who are looking to join their start-up venture with an existing government-backed program 

It is also important to be able to show the numbers behind the plan.

Have the following things ready for assessment by authorities:

  • A solid business plan
  • The number of expected jobs to be created
  • Investment sum,
  • Financial resources
  • The skills or tech will be introduced through your start-up. 

work visa application form

Working Holiday Visa

For passport holders between the ages of 18 and 30, it is possible to obtain a working holiday visa.

This program was created to encourage cultural and educational exchange and to strengthen bilateral relationships.

Those who are visiting the country for pleasure may apply so that they can take short-term employment or participate in a training course in Hong Kong.

This program does have a quota attached and works on a first come first serve basis. 

A Few Other Things to Consider

Employment Change

If you've procured a visa based on the employment for professionals scheme, your visa is directly tied to your employer and non-transferable.

If you want to change employers, you must first apply through the Immigration Department using an “Application for Change of Employment” form. 

Visa Renewals

A visa must be renewed according to the schedule set down by your employment.

It typically follows a 2-2-3 year pattern, and you have to be sure that your application is completed a full month before the visa is set to expire. 

Family Visas

If you have a spouse and/or dependent children and want them in Hong Kong, you have to file an application for each family member.

The length of stay inherent in each family visa is tied to the length of time on the professional visa.

While residing in Hong Kong, family members are permitted to work or study as they wish. 

However, family members usually need separate Hong Kong work visas to work.

Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID)

Once settled in Hong Kong with a valid work visa, you can apply for a Hong Kong Identity Card (HKID).

This card proves your residency status and is required for many everyday activities in Hong Kong.

Applying for Permanent Residence

For those who have entered Hong Kong under an employment scheme and resided in the city for at least seven years, eligibility opens for “Right to Abode” or a permanent residency.

If the applicant is able to meet all criteria (as found on the official immigration website), they can be approved to make Hong Kong their permanent home.

While jobs can be competitive, visas in Hong Kong are relatively easy for those who possess special skills and excellent educational or professional credentials.

Be sure to have all of the required information ready and work through the process step-by-step with your hiring company to ensure a smooth transition into Hong Kong work.

Collecting Your Hong Kong ID

Remember to collect your HKID once you've been awarded an employment visa.

You'll have 30 days from landing in Hong Kong to do so under your new visa.

Own a business and need help getting visa applications for your foreign employees?

It pays to have a good company secretary to get your back.

Register your business with Air Corporate today and get a full suite of business services including Visa application support.


Vivian Au

For many years, I worked at big accounting and company secretary firms in Hong Kong. I started Air Corporate to make the life of entrepreneurs and SMEs easy.

Vivian Au


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