10 things to learn about... Visas

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Our article series of '10 things to learn about...' continues with questions about visas in Hong Kong. 

1. What Visa schemes are available and what are the difference between Employment visa and Investment visa and others?
A: There are eight admission schemes for talent, professionals and entrepreneurs seeking to work and live in Hong Kong, namely Employment Visa for professionals, Visa for business investors and entrepreneurs, Mainland China talents and professionals, Quality Migrants, Technology Talent, Non-local Graduates, Second Generation Permanent Residents, and Dependants. Additionally there are visas to study, for training, i.e. student interns, and working holiday visas.

2. Can I bring my family?
A: Yes, persons admitted under the General Employment Policy, i.e, holding a visa for employment or as entrepreneurs can bring their spouses and unmarried children under the age of 18 as dependants. Spouses refers to married partners under Hong Kong or overseas law and celebrated civil partnerships or unions that are recognized by law in the place where they have been entered into. Read more on civil partnerships here.

3. Is there a visa for job seekers?
A: An application for an employment visa requires a confirmed offer of employment. Thus, it is not suitable for jobseekers. The Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS), however, is solely based on individual merits and does not require an employment. 

4. What are the criteria and requirements for a visa application?
A: The basic eligibility criteria are that the applicant is of good standing, ie. there is no security objection and no known record of serious crime, has a good academic background, normally a first degree in the relevant field, proven professional abilities and relevant experience, there is a genuine job vacancy that cannot be readily taken up by the local work force and the applicant has a confirmed offer of employment at a remuneration package broadly commensurate with the prevailing market level for such professionals in Hong Kong. For a preliminary review of your merits, contact us.

5. Which visa is the best?
A: The best visa is the one that is most suitable to the circumstances. 

6. How long is the visa processing time?
A: For an employment visa, the estimated timeframe is eight weeks to compile the application and for the immigration department to assess. Additional time may be required where supporting documents are not readily available or in cases where the immigration department seeks further clarification.

7. How much money is required to sponsor a visa application by my company? 
A: There is not one figure that is right or wrong. The company sponsoring an application or an entrepreneur establishing a business should be able to show sufficient funds to sustain and remain operational. As a rule of thumb, there should be enough funds to cover the increase in expenses from the foreign hire or to establish a business for a period of six to twelve months.

8. Can I work in China with a Hong Kong Visa?
A: No. Hong Kong and Mainland China a separate under the one country – two systems policy. Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region and administers its own immigration policy. Applications to work and reside in China must be filed with the applicable Chinese authorities. For assistance to apply for a China visa in Hong Kong, contact us.

9. When can I get Permanent Residency?
A: The prerequisite of applying for the right of abode or permanent residency in Hong Kong requires a continuous stay of at least seven years. 

10. What happens if I lose my job or resign and do I have to leave Hong Kong?
A: When an employment relationship is terminated, irrespective of the reason or terminating party, the employing company should inform the immigration department of the cessation of sponsorship. It is the general policy of the immigration department not to cancel or revoke visas. Thus, the visa holder may remain in Hong Kong for the remaining duration of the visa. Subject to additional conditions of stay, employment visa holders will need to seek the immigration department’s approval should they wish to work for another company. When your visa expires or your employer changes, you should apply for an extension of stay.