Question: I'm not a Hong Kong permanent resident. If I plan to come there to work, do I need a work visa? How do I get one?
Mr Tall replies: The simple answer is yes, you certainly do need a work visa if you're not a Hong Kong permanent resident. And no, you can't apply for one on your own. You must be sponsored by a company that is willing to employ you, and to go through the trouble of seeing your visa application through the approval process at the Hong Kong Immigration Department.
The Immigration Department makes the decision on the following grounds:
4. An application for an entry visa/permit to enter Hong Kong for employment or investment may be favourably considered if :
a. there is no security objection and no known record of serious crime in respect of the applicant; and
b. the applicant has 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 may also be adopted; and
c. the applicant has a confirmed offer of employment and is employed in a job relevant to his academic qualifications or working experience that cannot be readily taken up by the local work force; and
d. the remuneration package including income, accommodation, medical and other fringe benefits is broadly commensurate with the prevailing market level for professionals in Hong Kong; or
e. the applicant is in a position to make substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong.
5. Criteria to be considered include :
a. whether there is a genuine vacancy for an employee in Hong Kong;
b. what skills, knowledge and experience are needed for the job;
c. whether the terms and conditions of employment are comparable to those in the local market;
d. whether the applicant is suitably qualified and experienced relevant to the job; and
e. whether the job can be filled locally.
All the details on working visas are available here.
Reader Fiona adds: The sponsoring company will be asked what they have done to source the position locally and may be subject to review of recruitment efforts
I process a few applications for the company I work for and while the process has become very much more protracted (for example the standard form now requires that proof of a local search has been conducted, where before it wasn't part of the form and they would only sometimes ask about that), they are pretty affable at immigration.
In all my years dealing with immigration (both personally and professionally) I've found them reasonable but they do have more 'rules' to stick to now.
Question: My company has sponsored me, and I have a work visa in Hong Kong. Can my spouse get a 'dependant work visa', that is, will he/she have a right to work in Hong Kong because I have that right?
There is good news for the spouses and other dependants of those who are resident in Hong Kong on work visas. After several years in which such dependants were totally barred from employment themselves, the regulations have been relaxed, and employment is now again permitted.
The main article on work visas in Hong Kong is rather cryptic:
39A. Dependants of persons who have been admitted into Hong Kong to study are prohibited from taking up employment in Hong Kong unless they have obtained permission from the Director of Immigration.
Dependants of persons who have been admitted to take up employment (as professionals, investors or for training) or as capital investment entrants may apply to the Immigration Department for cancellation of the condition of stay that employment is not permitted if such condition has been imposed on them.
Dependants who have their condition of stay prohibiting employment cancelled or who are not subject to the employment restriction are not prohibited from taking up employment in Hong Kong.
Fortunately, things are much clearer in the FAQs:
Q5: Can dependants admitted under the dependant policy take up employment in Hong Kong?
A5: Dependants of persons not subject to a limit of stay, e.g. Hong Kong permanent residents and those with unconditional stay or right to land in Hong Kong, are not prohibited from taking up employment.
With effect from 15 May 2006, dependants of persons admitted for employment (as professionals, investors or for training) or as capital investment entrants are not prohibited from taking up employment.
However, dependants of persons who have been admitted to study are not permitted to take up employment unless they have obtained permission from the Director of Immigration.
The batgung add: For more on similar issues, see our article on finding a job in Hong Kong.