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Hong Kong - Citizenship

Those who have been living in Hong Kong for 7 consecutive years are able to apply for permanent residency and the "right of abode". The benefits of having permanent residency include access to government programs and the right to vote. However, if you leave Hong Kong for more than 3 years then you will lose your status.

There isn’t really such a concept as “Hong Kong citizenship.” Instead, China and its residents are Chinese citizens with a "right of domicile" in Hong Kong. To become a citizen, you would need to apply for Chinese citizenship. Since China does not accept dual citizenship, you would need to renounce your native citizenship. This process is a long, detailed, complicated, and expensive one that offers few benefits, especially in comparison to simply becoming a permanent resident. As a result, most expats simply become permanent residents. It is possible, for instance, to be a permanent resident in Hong Kong and maintain your American citizenship status.

Before applying for permanent residency, you must prove that you are eligible for permanent residency. This is referred to as the “verification of eligibility for the permanent resident card.” You can apply for this verification online. You will also need to show copies of your Hong Kong ID card, a travel document showing your current condition of stay in Hong Kong, and proof that you are able to apply for the status. This proof can be anything that has shown your continuous residence in Hong Kong for the past 7 years. Application materials are sent to:

Right of Abode Section
Immigration Department
25/F Immigration Tower
7 Gloucester Road Wan Chai
Hong Kong

It takes about 6 weeks to process applications. You must be within Hong Kong when you apply. Outside applications are not accepted. You may also apply for your children and their eligibility certification at this time as well.
Once your position has been verified, you can apply for the Hong Kong permanent residency card.

Spouses of Hong Kong permanent residents cannot obtain permanent residency by virtue of their marriage unless they are also eligible in their own right for Hong Kong permanent resident status under the Schedule 1 to the Immigration Ordinance. If your spouse has also resided in Hong Kong for 7 consecutive years then he/she may apply for eligibility verification. If your spouse has not been a resident in Hong Kong for that period of time, however, then they will not be eligible, even if you are approved.

As a permanent resident, there are benefits that you are unable to receive when you are residing in Hong Kong on a work visa. Permanent residents of Hong Kong are able to vote and to stand for election. They can also stay in Hong Kong without a work visa and have access to government benefits such as public housing.

One of the most important differences between a permanent resident and someone with a work visa is that the permanent resident can seek employment other than the position which earned them the work visa to begin with. Once you have gained permanent residency, you will be free to start your own business, become self-employed, or find another position within Hong Kong.

More information can be found at: http://www.gov.hk/en/residents/immigration/idcard/

You can also look at the Immigration Department’s website which contains a list of all the forms that are available online.

Immigration Department
Immigration Tower,
7 Gloucester Road,
Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2824 6111
Email: enquiry@immd.gov.hk

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