Sovereign offers expert personal assistance to expatriate clients and their families who are moving to Hong Kong including, but not limited to, visas and permits, finance, accommodation, healthcare and education.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) operates a liberal immigration regime, permitting visitors from over 160 countries to enter Hong Kong without a visa. The number of visa-free days is dependent upon a visitor’s country of origin and ranges from seven to 180 days. During their stay, visitors are permitted to conduct certain kinds of business, such as conducting negotiations and signing contracts.
In general, unless a person has the right of abode or right to land in the HKSAR, he/she will require a visa or entry permit to work, study, establish or join in any business, take up residence or to remain in the HKSAR as a visitor beyond their designated visa-free period.
As an international financial centre, Hong Kong maintains an extremely flexible employment policy for highly skilled business professionals, as well encouraging immigration by investors, entrepreneurs and people of talent. Each application will be determined on its individual merits. An applicant must meet the standard immigration requirements as well as the relevant specific visa eligibility criteria.
Admission schemes for talent, professionals and entrepreneurs are as follows:
- General Employment Policy (GEP) for non-Mainland residents – Professionals
- General Employment Policy (GEP) for non-Mainland residents – Entrepreneurs
- Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)
- Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)
- Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG)
- Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents (ASSG)
General Employment Policy (GEP) for non-Mainland residents – Professionals
Applicants who possess special skills, knowledge or experience of value to and not readily available in the HKSAR may apply to come to work under the GEP. The GEP is quota-free and non-sector specific.
The applicant must have a good education background, normally a first degree in the relevant field, but in special circumstances, good technical qualifications, proven professional abilities and/or relevant experience and achievements supported by documentary evidence.
There must be a genuine job vacancy and the applicant must have a confirmed offer of employment in a job relevant to his academic qualifications or work experience that cannot be readily taken up by the local work force.
The remuneration package including income, accommodation, medical and other fringe benefits must be broadly commensurate with the prevailing market level for professionals in the HKSAR.
The initial duration of stay upon entry is two years with two subsequent extensions of three years. GEP entrants must apply for prior approval from the Director of Immigration for any change in employment if he/she is admitted on employment condition.
In addition, top-tier GEP entrants who have assessable income for salaries tax of not less than HK$2 million in the previous year of tax assessment may be granted a six-year extension of stay. Top-tier entrants need only notify the Immigration Department in writing upon change of employment within his/her permitted limit of stay.
General Employment Policy (GEP) for non-Mainland residents – Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs who plan to establish or join in a business in Hong Kong may apply under the GEP. Applicants must be able to demonstrate good education background, technical qualifications or proven professional experience and must be in a position to make substantial contribution to the economy of the HKSAR.
An applicant who wishes to establish or join in business in Hong Kong should submit:
- A two-year business plan to demonstrate that the business is suitable for and capable of developing in Hong Kong, together with a two-year forecast of the profit-and-loss account statement, cash flow statement and balance sheet to demonstrate the feasibility of the business in terms of operation, finances and development. If the applicant is running relevant business overseas or has joined in a business in Hong Kong, he/she should submit the profit-and-loss account statement and balance sheet showing the business turnover and profit in the previous year.
- Statements of his/her personal and company bank accounts in the previous year and proof of other sources of funding, as well as the company’s latest audited financial report (if any) to demonstrate that he/she has sufficient financial resources to run the relevant business in Hong Kong.
- Documentary proof showing the amount of capital investment in Hong Kong.
- The organisational structure of his/her business and the required number of staff and posts, based on the nature and scale of the business.
- Explanation of new technology or skills (if applicable).
Applicants who wish to establish or join a start-up business may also submit an application. The Immigration Department may consider the application favourably if the start-up business concerned is supported by a government-backed programme with a rigorous vetting and selection process, and the applicant is the proprietor or partner of the start-up company or a key researcher of the relevant project. Examples of government-backed programmes include:
- StartmeupHK Venture Programme administered by InvestHK
- Incu-App, Incu-Bio and Incu-Tech programmes administered by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation
- Cyberport Incubation Programme
- Small Entrepreneur Research Assistance Programme and Enterprise Support Scheme administered by the Innovation and Technology Commission
- Design Incubation Programme administered by the Hong Kong Design Centre.
Successful applicants will normally be granted an initial stay of two years on employment condition upon entry, with two subsequent extensions of three years.
Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)
Professionals from the Mainland who are interested to work in Hong Kong may apply under the ASMTP, which has no sector restriction. Key requirements include:
- Secured a job relevant to his/her academic qualifications or work experience that cannot be readily taken up by the local workforce
- Remuneration package is commensurate with the prevailing market rate
- Good education background, technical qualifications or proven professional experience
The initial duration of stay upon entry is two years with two subsequent extensions of three years. ASMTP entrants must apply for prior approval from the Director of Immigration for any change in employment if he/she is admitted on employment condition.
In addition, top-tier ASMTP entrants who have assessable income for salaries tax of not less than HK$2 million in the previous year of tax assessment may be granted a six-year extension of stay. Top-tier entrants need only notify the Immigration Department in writing upon change of employment within his/her permitted limit of stay.
Quality Migrant Admission Scheme (QMAS)
Highly skilled or talented individuals who have not yet secured a job offer in Hong Kong but are interested to settle and work in Hong Kong may apply under the QMAS, which has no sector restriction. There are two points-based tests under the scheme:
- General Points Test (GPT) for highly skilled or talented persons – Assessment factors include: age, academic/professional qualifications, work experience, language proficiency, family background
- Achievement-based Points Test (APT) for talent with outstanding achievements.
The initial duration of stay upon entry for GPT entrants is two years with two subsequent extensions of three years. Top-tier GPT entrants who have assessable income for salaries tax of not less than HK$2 million in the previous year of tax assessment may be granted a six-year extension of stay. APT entrants may be granted a stay of eight years upon entry.
Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG)
Non-local graduates may apply under the IANG to stay in Hong Kong for one year to look for a job. Key requirements include:
- Obtained an undergraduate or higher qualification in a full-time locally-accredited local programme in Hong Kong
- Job offer not required upon entry (for fresh graduates)
- Job is at a level commonly taken up by degree holders and is remunerated at the market rate (for returning graduates)
Admission Scheme for Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents (ASSG)
Applicants, who are the second generation of Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents from overseas, may apply for entry into the HKSAR under ASSG. There is no sector restriction and no job offer is required upon entry. Key requirements include:
- Aged 18-40; born overseas
- At least one parent holding valid Hong Kong permanent identity card upon application and was a Chinese national settled overseas at the time of applicant’s birth
- Good education background, technical qualifications or proven professional experience
- Proficient in written and spoken Chinese (Putonghua or Cantonese) or English.
An entrant admitted under the ASSG will normally be granted an initial stay of 12 months on time limitation only without other conditions of stay. Upon applying for extension of stay, the applicant is then required to have secured an offer of employment which is at a level commonly taken up by degree holders and the remuneration package is at market level.
Dependant and Stay Arrangements
Successful entrants may bring in their spouse and unmarried dependent children under the age of 18 to Hong Kong. The dependants’ length of stay will normally be linked to that of the sponsor and they are free to take up employment or study during their stay in Hong Kong.
After seven years of continuous ordinary residence, entrants and their dependants may apply for Hong Kong permanent resident status in accordance with the law.
By law, every Hong Kong resident over the age of 11 years must carry a Hong Kong Identity Card at all times. If you have permission to stay in Hong Kong for more than 180 days, for example on a working or investment visa, you must apply for a Hong Kong Identity Card within 30 days of arrival in Hong Kong.