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Work Permits

Hong Kong - Work Permits

It is not possible to simply travel to Hong Kong, find a job, and start working there. In order to be legally employed in Hong Kong, you must have a valid work permit. However, work permits are harder to obtain than they once were.

To get a work permit, an employer must act as a sponsor for you. This means that you must have already accepted employment in Hong Kong before you can start the application process for the work permit. To hire a foreign employee, however, an employer must show that the position cannot be filled by local residents and that your qualifications, professional experience, and skills are necessary for the company.

It is possible to travel to Hong Kong, look for work, be offered a position, and then apply for a work permit. Most people, however, look for work in Hong Kong from abroad. Some are relocated to Hong Kong by their present company.

The Immigration Department has a few criteria that they are looking for when granting work visas to foreigners. In general, they are looking for applicants who have graduate degrees, technical experience, relevant experience to the position they have been offered, and those who the Department think can contribute to the local economy. In addition, you should be making a salary in Hong Kong that meets professional standards.

It usually takes about 8 weeks to process the work visa. There can be delays, however, if more information is needed. Your potential employer should apply for the visa for you, although you will have to provide information which might include copies of your professional and educational certifications and qualifications.

Expats fill a number of jobs in the education, finance, banking, and hospitality fields. Qualifications and experience vary for the different types of jobs. Teaching ESL, for instance, might require a TEFL certification. Teaching at an American school to other expat children, however, will probably require a degree in an education program and several years of experience.

The length of the work permit depends on the length of the employee’s contract. It is generally 12 months can be renewed after that. However, if your employment ends before your visa expires then you can continue to stay in Hong Kong until your visa’s expiration date.

If you are granted a work permit (or a work visa which is the same thing) then your spouse and children under the age of 18 are eligible for a dependent visa. These visa applications must be submitted at the same time as your work permit application. Dependents may live, study and work in Hong Kong. Dependent visas are not given to partners who are not legally married.

Those who travel to Hong Kong under the work visa may apply for change of employment if they continue to fulfill the visa’s eligibility criteria and are employed in a that is job relevant to their qualifications and experience.

Hong Kong does have a Working Holiday scheme for those between 18-30 who have passports from Germany, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, the Republic of Korea, and Japan. The Working Holiday scheme allows travelers to come into Hong Kong, find employment or enroll in an educational course, and visit the country for a short amount of time. The employment, however, is short-term since the length of stay is capped at 12 months. For more information on the Working Holiday scheme, visit: http://www.immd.gov.hk/en/services/hk-visas/working-holiday.html

After seven years of living and working in Hong Kong, it’s possible to apply for permanent residency. Permanent residency offers many benefits such as access to public funds and programs. For more information regarding forms, application procedures, and specific information about the work permits, visit the Hong Kong Immigration Department’s website.

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

If you have a partner but you are not legally married then it might be possible for your partner to get an extended visitor’s visa. However, these are difficult to get and not everyone who applies is approved. Hong Kong does not recognized same sex marriages so the dependent’s visa would be not applicable for these partnerships.

Expat Health Insurance Partners


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