Visa and Residency in Hong Kong

All nationals, – unless having a close connection with the HKSAR by birth or long period of residence in the region or are holders of HKSAR Passports, BNO passports, right of abode, right to land, or unconditional visa stay in the HKSAR, and wish to work, study, establish, or join in any business or want to take up residence in the HKSAR, will need a visa or entry permit for such purpose.

However, you may not need a visa or entry permit for visit, depending on your nationality, i.e., the type of travel document you hold.

If you do not enjoy the visa waiver concession or wish to stay longer than the entitled visa-free period, you must obtain a visa/entry permit before coming. An application for a visa/entry permit entry to the HKSAR for a visit or transit may be favorably considered if the applicant is a bona fide visitor of Hong Kong, has adequate funds to support his stay without working; and holds an onward ticket to the place of his destination, unless the destination is the Mainland of China or Macao.

To check the details if you require a visa or are entitled to visa waiver at the website:

In general, unless a person has the right of abode or right to land in the HKSAR, he/she is required to have a visa/entry permit to stay in the HKSAR as a visitor longer than the allowed visa-free period. Persons who need a visa or entry permit for visit (or purposes other than a visit) should obtain the appropriate visa or entry permit before travelling to the HKSAR. Applications Visit visa by Indian nationals should be submitted to the HKSAR Immigration Department directly by post or through the local sponsor. While each application is determined on its individual merits, an applicant should meet normal immigration requirements (such as holding a valid travel document with adequate returnability to his/her country of residence or citizenship; be of clear criminal record and raise no security or criminal concerns to the HKSAR; have no likelihood of becoming a burden to the HKSAR, etc.)

Visitors are not allowed, by law, to take up employment (paid or unpaid), to establish or join in any business, or to enter school as a student; and, unless the visitor can show most unusual circumstances, he will not be allowed to change immigration status after arrival.

Hong Kong immigration form
Hong Kong Visa stamp

a) Pre-arrival Registration for Indian Nationals in Hong Kong

Indian nationals, except those with valid permission to remain in the HKSAR for employment, study, or residence, who wish to travel to HKSAR must apply pre-arrival registration for a stay not exceeding 14 days by completing pre-arrival registration online before they can visit or transit the HKSAR visa-free, unless they are in transit by air and do not leave the airport transit area.  In order to succeed in the approval of the pre-registration, the applicant’s Indian passport must be valid for at least six months and must truthfully enter the correct information in their application and all the information filled in the application must be exactly the same as it appears in the Indian passport.

After the required information has been entered, the computer system will process the registration automatically. The registration result will be made known to the applicant instantly. They must print the “Notification Slip for Pre-arrival Registration for Indian Nationals” generated by the computer system on a sheet of blank A4 white paper before they arrive in Hong Kong. Please note that upon arrival to HKSAR, even if the person holds pre-arrival registration, they can be refused entery to HKSAR. Application for a visit, i.e., for leisure, social, or business purpose, will likely be successful only if he/she satisfies the immigration officer that the person is a bona fide visitor of Hong Kong, has enough funds to support his stay without working, or has close relatives/friends to support such stay, and should hold return ticket to his place of origin or onward ticket to the place of his/her destination unless the destination is the Mainland of China or the Macao Special Administrative Region (SAR).

Pre-arrival Registration Information

b) Working Holiday Scheme in Hong Kong

Currently, nationals of 13 countries – Australia, Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden, and United Kingdom – aged 18 to 30, if their main intention is to holiday in the HKSAR, are entitled to obtain one-time working holiday visa of not more than 12 months under the Working Holiday Scheme (the effective date of the scheme is to be confirmed under their respective annual quotas). The applicant must hold a valid passport and is ordinarily resident of that country and has sufficient financial funds to maintain and purchase a return air ticket. Additionally, the applicant agrees to hold medical, healthcare (including hospitalization), and repatriation and liability insurance to remain in force throughout his/her stay in the HKSAR (dependents of the holiday workers are not entitled to dependent visa of HKSAR).

To know more about: working holiday scheme

c) Travel Pass for Hong Kong:

Frequent visitors with valid passports can be eligible to come to the HKSAR without a visa or entry permit for visit purposes if they are granted a HKSAR Travel Pass. Applicants should have genuine need to visit the HKSAR frequently, and have come for visits trouble-free on 3 or more occasions (other than return from side trips to the Mainland of China or the region of Macao) in the 12-month period immediately before the day of the application, or can satisfy the Director of Immigration that their visits may bring substantial benefits to the HKSAR. The Director of Immigration reserves the right not to issue a HKSAR Travel Pass, even if the criteria stated above are fulfilled.

To know more about – Travel Pass

d) General Employment Policy (GEP) in Hong Kong- Employment as Professionals or Investment as Entrepreneurs

GEP – Professionals

Professionals from overseas who wish to work in Hong Kong can apply for an employment visa under the GEP. There is no sector restriction on this kind of application. The important requirements are that applicant should have a confirmed job offer relevant to his/her educational qualifications or work experience that cannot be taken up by the Hong Kong local workforce. However, such applicant should possess good education background normally, a first degree in the relevant field, good technical qualifications or acquired professional experience relevant experience and achievements. The salary/benefits offered must be at least prevailing market rate for professionals in HKSAR. Application would be favorably considered only if there is no security objection and no known record of serious crime in respect of the applicant. The employer should be able to prove need for a genuine job vacancy for the post.

To know more about – GEP – Professionals

GEP – Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs from overseas who wish to establish or join a business in Hong Kong can apply for self-employment visa as entrepreneurs under the GEP. The important requirements are a good education, technical qualifications, or good professional experience with which applicant can make substantial contribution to the economy of the HKSAR. Each application will be considered, based on individual business plan, proposed investment amount, proposal of any new technology or skills, existing and proposed business turnover and number of jobs created locally, and plan to create local jobs. The applicants need to submit a detailed two-year business plan. The Immigration Department may consider the application favourably if the applicant’s business is of the type that supports one of the four traditional pillar industries (i.e., trading and logistics, tourism, financial services, and professional and producer services) or the four clusters of sectors being explored for support measures by the Economic Development Commission (i.e., transportation, convention and exhibition industries, manufacturing industries, innovative technology; tourism and cultural, and creative industries, and professional services). The Immigration Department can refer the application for advice from relevant government departments or professional bodies on the applicant’s business plan and if the proposed business is suitable for and able to sustain a steady growth in Hong Kong, and if it supports the Hong Kong industry.

To know more about GEP – Entrepreneurs

e) Employment under the Technology Talent Admission Scheme in Hong Kong

Eligible sponsor companies can apply fast-track quota to the Innovation and Technology Commission (ITC) under “The Technology Talent Admission Scheme” (TechTAS) if the applicant possesses non-local technology talent to undertake research and development (R&D) work for them in the HKSAR. The company that is granted quota can sponsor an eligible person to apply for an employment visa/entry permit within the 12-month quota validity period if there is no security objection and no known record of serious crime in respect of the applicant for an applicant who is engaged principally in conducting R&D in the areas of artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cyber security, data analytics, financial technologies, material science, robotics, 5G communications, digital entertainment, green technology, integrated circuit design, Internet-of-Things, or microelectronics if the applicant is a degree-holder in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from a well-recognized university, if its among the top 100 universities for STEM-related subjects in the latest publication of Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Ranking Table, Shanghai Jiao Tong University Ranking Table (Shanghai Ranking), or Times Higher Education Ranking Table. Work experience is not compulsory for those with a Master’s or Doctoral degree, whereas if the applicant possess Bachelor’s degree only then they must possess a minimum of one year of work experience in the relevant technology areas and must fulfill the requirement to employ new local employees in technology-related work. The remuneration offered should not be lower than the prevailing market level for comparable jobs in the HKSAR and the applicant needs to possess the specific particulars pertaining to the job position set out in the quota allotment letter issued by ITC.

f) Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates in Hong Kong

Non-local students who enter HKSAR for the purpose of education with a student visa, after they obtain undergraduate or higher qualification in a full-time educational institution in Hong Kong, can apply to stay/return and work in the HKSAR under the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG). They can be granted an initial stay of 12 months if they submit applications to the Immigration Department within six months of their graduation. They need not to have any job offer in hand to apply for such visa and are allowed to find the job after sanction of their visa.

g) Employment as Imported Workers in Hong Kong

Work Visas under the Supplementary Labour Scheme (SLS) are allowed to the employers who have genuine difficulties in finding suitable employees locally from HKSAR to import workers from outside Hong Kong for importation of labour at technician level or below. Such application for quota needs to be made by the sponsor employer to the Application Office of the Labour Department for approval-in-principle under the SLS subject to the grant of approval-in-principle. After that, the employer needs to arrange for his/her prospective workers to submit a visa/entry permit application within the period specified in the approval-in-principle letter. The approval-in-principle will automatically lapse if the visa/entry permit application is not submitted in time. After the application is approved in principle, application should be made to the Immigration Office and such application will be allowed to employ if the applicant is suitably qualified and experienced for the job and terms and conditions of employment are comparable to those in the local market and there is no adverse record to the detriment of the applicant and the employer; and the employer is financially capable of employing and can provide suitable accommodation and guarantees his/her maintenance and repatriation upon termination of his/her contract. The applicant under this visa is not allowed to bring in their dependents.

To know more about Employment as Imported Workers

h) Employment as Foreign Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong

An application for foreign domestic helper (FDH) can be favorably considered if there is no known record to the detriment of the applicant, applicant possesses more than two years work experience as a domestic helper, and if the employer is a bonafide resident of HKSAR and salary is not below the minimum prescribed salary by the HKSAR government. The employer needs to enter into a standard employment contract and should be financially capable of employing the helper, providing him/her with suitable accommodation with reasonable privacy and need to guarantee maintenance and repatriation of FDH upon termination of his/her contract. (For information on the prevailing MAW, refer to the Labour Department’s website at www.labour.gov.hk). The employer must have a household income of at least HK$ 15,000 per month or comparable assets for the whole period of employment to support the employment of the helper. The helper cannot be required or allowed by the employer to take up any other employment with any other person during his/her stay in the HKSAR and within the contract. If the bona fides of the employer and or the helper are in doubt or there is any known record to the detriment of the employer and or the helper, the FDH application may not be approved. The employer should also be a bona fide resident of the HKSAR. The employers who need for their FDHs to perform driving duties incidental to and arising from domestic duties may apply for exceptional permission to allow the DH to perform driving duties. All such applications are considered on their individual merits arising from mainly the five broad categories of domestic duties of household chores, cooking, looking after aged persons in the household, baby-sitting, and child-minding, and the FDH must possess a valid Hong Kong driving license. FDHs are not allowed to bring in their dependents.

To know more about Foreign Domestic Helper (FDH) visa

i) Training Visa for Hong Kong

Applicant can be entitled to a training visa for a limited period of not more than 12 months for training to acquire special skills and knowledge not available in their country of origin if they have a written contract with the sponsoring employer company, which is well-established company, capable of providing the proposed training and the intended duration and content of the training programme can be justified provided the sponsor guarantees in writing the maintenance and repatriation of the applicant and return of the applicant to his place of resident country.

To know more about – Training Visa

j) Capital Investment Entrant Scheme for Hong Kong

Hong Kong government has announced that the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme would be suspended with effect from 15 January 2015 until further notice. The Immigration Department has continued to process applications received on or before 14 January 2015. The applicant of at least 18 years or above age owning net assets of not less than HK$10 million of their own for at least two years prior to their application with no adverse record both in the HKSAR and country of their residence and ability to support and accommodate their dependents from other funds were entitled to visa under this scheme. They were required to invest HK$10 million in permissible investment asset classes (except Certificates of Deposit) within six months before submission of the application or after approval of the application by the Immigration Department.

To know more about – Capital Investment Entrant Scheme visa in Hong Kong

k) Student Visa for Hong Kong

An application for a visa/entry permit to enter the HKSAR for study may be favorably considered if the applicant is able to secure admission to a private school registered under the Education Ordinance (Cap. 279) or Post-Secondary Colleges Ordinance (Cap. 320). Except for post-secondary education, entry for study in public or aided schools (other than English Schools, Foundation Schools, and Direct Subsidy Scheme Schools) is not permitted. The studies must be in a full-time, locally-accredited post-secondary program, including short-term courses or part-time locally-accredited postgraduate local program or on exchange in full-time locally-accredited local programs at sub-degree level for not more than six months or on exchange in full-time locally-accredited local or non-local programmes for not more than one year at undergraduate or above level or is enrolled in a full-time course on the register of non-local higher education or professional courses under the Non-local Higher and Professional Education (Regulation) Ordinance.

An applicant between the age of five years and eight months to 11 for primary education or below the age of 20 for secondary education can be entitled to a student visa if he/she has a school acceptance letter to confirm that he/she has been accepted for a course of study and able to meet the fees for the course and also the living expenses for the maintenance and accommodation without working and without recourse to public funds.

In order to apply for entry for study, the applicant should nominate a local sponsor. Such local sponsor can either be the education institution granting the acceptance or an individual. If the sponsor is an individual, he/she is required to sign an undertaking that he/she is prepared to provide financial support to the applicant during the applicant’s period of study in the HKSAR. If the applicant is under the age of 18, his/her sponsor is required to sign an undertaking that he/she is prepared to provide accommodation to the applicant during the applicant’s period of study in the HKSAR. In addition, the sponsor is held responsible for the repatriation of the applicant, where necessary. If the applicant is under the age of 18, one of the applicant’s parents should authorize the sponsor or his relative/friend to be the guardian of the applicant. A consent letter duly signed by both the guardian and one of the applicant’s parents should be produced.

Persons admitted for studying in full-time undergraduate or post-graduate local programs in local degree-awarding institutions may bring in their spouse or partner and unmarried dependent children under the age of 18.

Non-local students of full-time locally-accredited local or non-local programs at undergraduate level or above, whose study period is not less than one academic year, are also entitled to take up internship if such internship is study/curriculum-related and arranged or endorsed by the institution at which they are studying and duration of the internship is up to one academic year, or one-third of the normal duration of the relevant full-time academic program, whichever is shorter. There is no restriction on the nature of work, level of salary, location, number of working hours and employers for the internship arrangements.

Regarding non-local students enrolled in full-time, locally-accredited sub-degree local programs with a study period not less than two academic years, they may also apply to take up internship if such internship is mandatory and study/curriculum-related and arranged/endorsed by the institution at which they are studying and duration of the internship is up to six months

Moreover, non-local students (excluding exchange students) of full-time locally-accredited local programs at undergraduate level or above whose study period is not less than one academic year may, during the currency of their limit of stay, take up part-time on-campus employment for not more than 20 hours per week throughout the year; and are also entitled to take up employment during the summer months from 1 June to 31 August without any limit in relation to working hours and location.

To know more about – Hong Kong Student Visa

l) Quality Migrant Admission Scheme for Hong Kong

The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme is quota-based and operated on a points-based system. Applicants are required to fulfill a set of prerequisites before they can be awarded points under either one of the two points-based tests, the General Points Test (GPT) and the Achievement-based Points Test (APT). Applicants are then required to compete for quota allocation with other applicants. To be eligible under this scheme, the applicant should be of age 18 or above on the day of the application and able to support and accommodate himself/herself and his/her dependents from his/her own financial resources during his/her stay in the HKSAR. The applicant must not have a criminal or adverse immigration record in HKSAR or elsewhere and should be fluent in written and spoken Chinese (Putonghua or Cantonese) or English. Such applicant must have a good education background, normally a first degree from a recognized university or a tertiary education institution. In special circumstances, such applicants may be considered if they have good technical qualifications, with proof of professional abilities or experience and achievements. Selection exercises under this scheme are done on a regular basis for quota allocation to applicants. During each selection exercise, applications who satisfy both the prerequisites and the minimum passing mark under GPT or the one point-scoring factor under APT are given ranks according to scores. High-scoring applications are then short-listed for selection by the non-statutory Advisory Committee on Admission of Quality Migrants and Professionals (the Advisory Committee) appointed by the Chief Executive of the HKSARG. The Advisory Committee, bearing in mind socioeconomic and other relevant requirements of Hong Kong, recommends to the Director of Immigration on how best to allocate the quota and approve the applications.

m) Residence as Dependent in Hong Kong

The sponsors who are granted visas for employment (as a professional, for investment to establish/join in business, or for training) or studies (in full-time undergraduate or post-graduate local programs in local degree-awarding institutions), or who are permitted to remain in the HKSAR as an entrant under the Capital Investment Entrant Scheme, the Quality Migrant Admission Scheme or the Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents are entitled to apply for dependents’ visas of their spouses or partners of same sex or opposite sex if entered into in accordance with the laws of their country, and their unmarried children below 18 years of age in Hong Kong. The sponsor, who is a permanent resident of Hong Kong or having right to land or unconditional visa, is also entitled to apply dependent visas of their parents above 60 years of age. Application for dependent visas can be successful if there is reasonable proof of a genuine relationship between the applicant and the sponsor, there is no known record to the detriment of the applicant, and the sponsor is able to support the dependent’s living at a standard well above the subsistence level and provide him/her with suitable accommodation in the HKSAR. Please note that under the judicial interpretation by Hong Kong courts, “The Dependent Visa policy is not a general family reunion policy and the key consideration is dependency.  It is a policy allowing an applicant who is genuinely dependent upon the sponsor for maintenance and support to apply for permission to reside in Hong Kong.” (BI v Director of Immigration [2016] 2 HKLRD 520).  In order to consider the dependent visa application, the sponsor may be required to prove to Immigration that applicants are the genuine dependents of the sponsors, i.e., financially, emotionally, and/or physically.

To know more about – Dependent Visa requirements in Hong Kong

n) Right of Abode in Hong Kong

The right of abode in the HKSAR will allow a person the right to land in the HKSAR, to live free from any condition of stay (including a limit of stay) in the HKSAR, and cannot to be deported from the HKSAR and/or cannot be removed from the HKSAR.

A person of non-Chinese nationality, has status if has entered Hong Kong with a valid travel document, ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of at least seven years immediately before the date of application, and should have taken Hong Kong as their place of permanent residence. A person claiming to have permanent resident of the HKSAR does not have that status until he/she has applied to the Director of Immigration and the application has been approved.

A child under 21 years of age born in Hong Kong to a parent of non-Chinese nationality has status if such parent is a permanent resident of the HKSAR at the time of child’s birth or later before the child attains 21 years of age, child is also entitled to right of abode if one parent has the right of abode in Hong Kong. On attaining 21 years of age, the person ceases to be a permanent resident of the HKSAR. He will then have to qualify on his own merits in accordance with the 7 years residence requirements.

The applicant needs to make a declaration in the form to the Director of Immigration to prescribe that he/she has taken Hong Kong as his/her place of permanent residence. If the person is under 21 years of age, the declaration should be made by a parent or legal guardian. For this purpose, the applicant needs to furnish information to satisfy the Director of Immigration that he/she has taken Hong Kong as a place of permanent residence. The information can be like where is the habitual residence, whether the principal members of the person’s family (spouse and minor children) are in Hong Kong, whether the person has a reasonable means of income to support himself/herself and his/her family, and whether he/she has paid taxes in accordance with the law.

If a person has been absent from Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 36 months since he ceased to have ordinarily resided in Hong Kong and he/she will lose his right of abode but will acquire right to land and will be able to enter Hong Kong freely to live, study, and work and can reacquire eight of abode of Hong Kong.

i) To know more and check eligibility for Right to Abode in Hong Kong

ii) For Right to Abode Form link for Hong Kong

o) Marriage Registration in Hong Kong

Marriage under Hong Kong laws is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. Under Hong Kong Laws for solemnization of marriage, the minimum age for getting married is 16 years; however, in the case of either party being under the age of 21, the consent of relevant parent or guardian as the case may be is necessary.

There is no residential or nationality requirements for marriage.

However, any one of the marrying parties should give a Notice of Intended Marriage in advance to the Registrar of Marriages (the Registrar) in the prescribed form MR1(S) either directly by themselves or through a civil celebrant of marriages. The Registrar then exhibits Part I of the notice in his office until the issuance of a Certificate of Registrar of Marriages or the expiry of 3-months of the day of notice. Registrar may issue a Certificate to enable parties to celebrate their marriage at least 15 days after giving notice and marriage should be performed within 3 months from the date of notice certifying all the statutory requirements are met. A marriage must be performed at a marriage registry by the Registrar or at a licensed place of worship by the competent Priest or by a civil celebrant of marriages at any other place in Hong Kong.

After making an appointment for giving the notice at the marriage registry, either one of the marrying parties has to go to the selected marriage registry/office in person to give the notice as scheduled. You have to produce the Hong Kong identity cards/travel documents/identification documents of both marrying parties and pay the prescribed fee. If you intend marry at a licensed place of worship, you should consult the officiating Priest for the exact date, time, and place of wedding. You then make an appointment booking for a registry office you choose for giving notice of intended marriage only.

If the marriage does not take place within 3 months after the giving of the notice, the notice shall be void. Another notice needs to be given before the solemnization of marriage.

For marriages that are valid under the law of the country where they were solemnized, it is not necessary to register such marriages with the Registrar of Marriages in Hong Kong again.

If you have already registered your marriage in Hong Kong and you wish to obtain a certified copy of the marriage certificate, you can apply for a search of marriage records and/or a certified copy of the marriage certificate.

If you need a document certifying that you have not registered any marriage in Hong Kong, you can apply for a certificate of absence of marriage record (CAMR).

i) Marriage celebrants:

https://www.immd.gov.hk/pdf/list_of_civil_celebrant(e).pdf

ii) To give the notice to the marriage registry in person, link is: https://www.gov.hk/en/residents/immigration/bdmreg/marriage/bookgivingmarriage.htm

p) Birth and death registration in Hong Kong

Birth Registration in Hong Kong

While parents will be busy in taking care of a newborn child, they should not forget to register the birth of their baby within 42 days of delivery. It is a criminal offence if anyone deliberately fails to register the birth of a child as required by the law. Parents are required to make prior appointment booking through either the internet or the telephone booking system for birth registration of the newborn baby.

Death Registration in Hong Kong

Registering the death of a person is the first and important obligation of a close relative of the deceased, whether the cause of death is natural or unnatural. Under Hong Kong laws, it is the duty of the nearest relative to register a death from natural causes within 24 hours. The medical practitioner who attended the deceased person during his last illness will sign and issue a Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death. The relative needs to take the medical certificate to the Deaths Registry for registration of the death.

Tel: (852) 2598 0888.

Link to birth, death and marriage in Hong Kong:

Please Note: Immigration policy constantly keeps changing and nothing contained in this article should be taken as a full statement of the law governing immigration.

About Author:

Ms Bharti Manek is a well-known Solicitor and Notary Public officer since for last 30+ years. She has been active member various social and professional orgnizations where she has contributed and led these orgnizations. Currently, she is chairperson of the Indian Chamber of Commerce, and committee member of Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), Hong Kong (HKTDC) and Pro Bono Committee of Law Society of Hong Kong.

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