How can I get a visa to live in Hong Kong?

If you currently live overseas and want to live in Hong Kong, you’ll need to apply for a visa. Here are the main options available to you.

THE SMALL PRINT - We’re not immigration experts, so don’t rely on anything you read here. You should contact the immigration department (details below) to get their official advice before making any decisions.

If you are coming here to work, you’ll most likely be sponsored by a local company who will apply for the visa on your behalf. We’ve collected some common questions and answers about work visas here.

There are other types of visa available if you fall into any of these categories:
  1. You’re rich
  2. You’re extremely smart, famous, or otherwise special
  3. You’re ethnic Chinese, and were born in Hong Kong
  4. One or both of your parents are ethnic Chinese who were born in Hong Kong
  5. You’re Irish, Australian, or a Kiwi aged between 18 & 30
  6. Your spouse has an employment visa to work in Hong Kong
  7. You own a company in your home country
  8. You have clear plans to start a business in Hong Kong
  9. None of the above
In more detail:

1. You’re rich
Lucky you. The government welcomes people that can invest HK$6.5M (appx USD835K) in Hong Kong, offering them a visa under the ‘Capital Investment Entrant Scheme’. Possible investments include buying shares listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, or buying property in Hong Kong.

2. You’re special
Hong Kong wants your genes! The government started a ‘Quality Migrant Admission Scheme’ last year to attract ‘highly skilled or talented persons who are fresh entrants not having the right to enter and remain in Hong Kong to settle in Hong Kong in order to enhance Hong Kong's economic competitiveness in the global market.’

What does this mean in practice? You can apply based on your achievements (they give ‘Olympic medals, Nobel prize, national/international awards’ as examples), or use a more general points-based approach which seems aimed at academics. A batgung reader gives an idea of the academic standard required: “I work in a local university. From time to time, the Immigration dept refers QMA applications to us for assessment. Many of the applicants possess PhD and professional experience in specialist areas and yet these only qualify them for assessment, not for admission.”

3. You’re ethnic Chinese, and were born in Hong Kong
4. One or both of your parents are ethnic Chinese who were born in Hong Kong
In both these cases, you may have ‘Right of Abode’ (ROA) in Hong Kong, which already gives you the right to live and work here. In that case you don’t need a visa.

The government’s web page describing ROA says people with ROA include:
a.    A Chinese citizen born in Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the HKSAR.

b.    A Chinese citizen who has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years before or after the establishment of the HKSAR.

c.    A person of Chinese nationality born outside Hong Kong before or after the establishment of the HKSAR to a parent who, at the time of birth of that person, was a Chinese citizen falling within category (a) or (b).
Points (a) and (c) seem to cover both groups of people we mentioned, but what does 'Chinese nationality' and 'Chinese citizen' mean? The nationality law says that
Article 9 Any Chinese national who has settled abroad and who has been naturalized as a foreign national or has acquired foreign nationality of his own free will shall automatically lose Chinese nationality.

So it seems that if you were born overseas, or have lived there for many years, there's a good chance that either you, your parents, or both would have lost your Chinese nationality. And yet... in a following ‘Explanations…’ document there appears to be a loophole whereby you can have an overseas passport, but be treated as a Chinese national when in Hong Kong.

Update, 28 Oct 2007: This page clarifies 'Chinese Citizen' in a way that seems to include many more people:

Whether you are regarded as a Chinese citizen in Hong Kong does not depend on what travel document you have. It depends on whether you have made a declaration of change of nationality to the HKSAR Immigration Department.

If you think you could receive ROA, your best bet is to contact immigration to check how they will interpret your case. (If you've been in this situation, please leave us a comment to describe how your case was treated. Then over time we'll get a clearer picture of how this works in practice)

5. You’re Irish, Australian, or a Kiwi aged between 18 & 30
Cha-ching. The Working Holiday Scheme can give you a visa to visit and work in Hong Kong for up to 12 months.

6. Your spouse has an employment visa to work in Hong Kong
Then you can work too. From the government FAQ : “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.”

7. You own a company in your home country
I remember reading of a person that owned a company in their home country, registered a branch office in Hong Kong, then had the Hong Kong branch sponsor him for an employment visa in Hong Kong. But… I can’t find the article now. Can anyone confirm that this approach works?

8. You have clear and convincing plans to start a business in Hong Kong
Separate from the ‘Capital Investment Scheme’ mentioned above, visas can also be issued to people who are investing time and effort in developing a business in Hong Kong. So, if you are an entrepreneur with a strong business plan this may be an option for you. Angela Spaxman has written a good summary of the process, and also gives a couple of real-world examples.

9. None of the above
If all else fails, some readers have suggested teaching English is a way to finance an extended stay in Hong Kong, even without an employment visa. There may be people doing this, but keep in mind it is illegal, and that there is no guarantee you will be allowed to re-enter Hong Kong if you are trying to extend a tourist visa. Here are some opposing views that have been left in the Batgung comments:

Submitted by J (not verified) on Tue, 2006-10-31 21:49.
It's pretty easy to pick up work teaching english to kids in local private kindergardens or even business english to adults. I know many young westerners (18-25) who come out to HK for a year or so (or longer) to do that. Many are without a college degree. For those who come from abroad they are here without work visas and therefore it's illegal of course but clamping down on these kinds of felons is not really high on the police's agenda. All you need to do is to make sure you leave HK every 3 months or so to renew your tourist visa. Typical going rate is around HK$15,000 per month and you can supplement this income by advertising in supermarkets / estates / or quietly pinching students from your tutorial center (many will be keen for you to teach them 1 to 1 as it will cost them less than they pay for group sessions) etc. Pretty boring work to do of course but it's quite easy and the money is good. If you're really serious about coming over here then I'd say go for it dude.

Submitted by Steve (not verified) on Mon, 2006-11-27 11:15.
It is pretty easy to get work in HK teaching english to kids / adults, WITHOUT possessing a university degree or work visa. I know many people who have done this and while I acknowledge that most english teachers here have a BA and a work visa this is not uniformly the case. Naturally if you wish to work for the British Council or other reputable organization which will page you a decent wage you would require both plus several years of experience but there are many, many small tuition centers around town, particularly in Kowloon / NT , who employ young westerners without degrees or work visas. They (the tuition center and the people you will teach!) just want a white face basically. The salary would not be great ($12,000 - $15,000 full time) and these centers can be quite unreliable at times when it comes to paying their staff on time, but there are many young westerners - most are on a gap year between secondary school and college, but i know of others well into their 20s without degrees who are doing the same - in HK doing this type of work. Of course it is illegal to work without the proper work visa and I do not wish to encourage people to break the law but it is relatively easy to get round this by simply leaving HK every three months (when entering HK most people with western passports get a 3 month tourist visa), if only to Shenzhen or Macau, to renew your visa.

Submitted by Fiona on Fri, 2006-12-01 13:15.
Last I heard, you couldn't count a trip to Macau or Shenzhen as qualifying for a new visa upon re-entry into Hong Kong. Has there been a change?

Submitted by (not verified) on Sat, 2006-12-02 03:27.
"What jobs are available without college ed. and with livable income in HK?"

Not many, trust me. Sure there are plenty of HK residents with no college education who make "livable income", but as a foreigner, someone with no education or language skills is basically a liability to HK. Companies risk huge fines for illegally employing you etc. Plus, look at how most people live in HK.. they live with their parents until they are married, and that's not all just a cultural thing. Without income coming in from everyone, even HK families would struggle with the cost of living here. My flat in HK is not what I would consider luxury, in fact it's small and old, but it still costs nearly double what I was paying per month back in southern California for a place about four times as large. Living here isn't cheap, you can reduce costs here and there, but the cost of living here is much higher than compare to say... Thailand ;)

If you have any tips about applying for visas or experiences you can share, we welcome your feedback.

PS Any questions? If it’s a question you think another reader can help with, feel free to post your question in the comments below. But if it’s a question about the details of Hong Kong’s immigration policies, you’re probably best contacting the immigration department directly, to make sure you get the correct answer:


The Easy Way

Or someone could take the easy way out and marry a local. You don't have to be rich or smart...Just good lookin'. Although, that is a slightly longer term commitment than opening a business or investing in the stock market.

How about going to school in

How about going to school in Hong Kong?

I missed that!

I hadn't heard of anyone taking this route, but MrsB says it's not that uncommon - every so often there will be a story in the newspaper of a couple (usually one from mainland China, and one from Hong Kong) caught out making a marriage of convenience just to get residence in Hong Kong. The cost? Apparently the going rate is under $HK10,000 to find a willing bride / husband, so certainly cheaper than the investment option!


Study in Hong Kong

Yes, there are student visas if you plan to study in Hong Kong. But the local system seems aimed at people already in college/university, rather than people who would like to spend some time abroad and study at the same time.

If you visit the local universities' websites, they tell you more about the courses offered. The majority look to be exchange courses lasting a term or a year, offered to undergraduate students in overseas universities that have partnered with the local university. There are other options such as summer classes that are open to all. Try CUHK or HKU for starters.


non BA degree teaching jobs in HK (English)?

I would love to live in HK teaching english, but I don't think it is as easy as other posters are making out.

Firstly, I want to be legal and have the government experts visa to back that up,and not be teaching on a business or tourist visa.

I have looked at the NET scheme at and it seems that a BA, Tefl and experience from what I have heard could get you onto the PNET scheme if you are a native speaker from a commonwealth country or the US. But it seems the SNET scheme requires more stringent standards and qualifications.

So, my question is; anyone in Hong kong teaching with just a BA in an English related subject (mine is literature) and a TEFL and some experience? And what kind of work could I expect to procure with those qualifications and only minimal cantonese knowledge?

Any information much appreciated.

best regards

Renewing visitor visa's

I've been reading many comments from other users who have taught english without a work visa, and suggest just renewing your visitor visa by leaving the Hong Kong and re-entering.  I do realize this works, and since I am Canadian, I also know I get 3 months each time I enter Hong Kong.  My question is, how long will they turn a blind eye to you before asking your purpose in Hong Kong? Don't they get suspicious, even if you leave Hong Kong for a period of a 1 week to a month before re-entering again? If those of you who relied on visitor visa's to remain in Hong Kong can give me your input, such as how long you did it, any problems/questions you faced, etc. that would be great! Thank you all.  I've been in Hong Kong since early March, went to Thailand for a week in April, and will be going back to Canada in June for a month or so to visit with friends and family.  I want to travel for a few years, and want Hong Kong to be my "home" as it is centrally located for me, and also I have a lot of friends who live here. So renewing a visitor visa is not a problem for me, I'm just worried they will refuse me entry some day and just want to be somewhat prepared.


If HK were Canada (was: renewing visitor visa)

What do you think would happen if you tried doing this in Canada with a Hong Kong passport? I think it involves a long interrogation, handcuffs, and being told not to come back for a very long time.

A visitor's visa is exactly that. You visit, then you go home for a while. They can't be extended.

Every time you appear at the border looking for your next permit, your immigration records are reviewed by computer, which will calculate how long you've been in HK. When your entry-exit pattern resembles residence, you'll be given your final warning and possibly a reduced entry endorsement (may be as short as 7 days) to get things in order before leaving HK.

If you want HK to be your home for the next few years, you're going to need a visa, unless you spend more time out of HK than in it (better if you can prove that you are self-supporting and don't work in HK, but not a guarantee). For the UK, if you try to spend more than 180 days a year on a visitor's entry clearance, you will be asked some tough questions.

You might want to ask about the HKSAR Travel Pass. This is a travel document designed for frequent travellers to HK and grants a 60-day stay on each use. You are guaranteed the 60-day entry on every presentation of the document, no matter how often. If you explain your situation to Immigration they might let you have one, though it's mainly intended for business travellers.

Good luck, but please show the HK border controls the respect they deserve, just as you'd expect HK people to do in Canada.

Visa for partner


Im a permanent resident in hong kong, hoping to move back in December, having lived in NZ for 7 years.  My boyfriend (from NZ), who I have been with for 5 years is planning to move over with me. We are living in the UK and plan to move to HK in December, but we are worried that he will struggle to secure a work visa. Is there a visa he can apply for as a 'civil partner'? ie. not married? We have been together for 5 years, and lived together for 3 years. I know there is a 'civil partner' visa offered in the UK. But i cant seem to find one for Hong Kong? Do you know of one where he can work under a civil partner visa? any advice you have would be appreciated!


Visa for 'civil partner'

I've only seen the word 'spouse' used on the website. Have any readers who are permanent residents managed to get a dependant visa for a non-married partner?

Also consider option #5 above, at least to give him long enough to get here and find work.

Good luck, MrB

"civil partner" issue

Confirmation - on the form, it says "spouse".

I think a "civil partner" won't cut it w/ immigration. When I switched from emplyment visa to a married to an HK person's visa, they wanted to see the marriage certificate.

As far as I know, HK Govt. won't even accept legal marriages of gay people from Canada or Massachusetts for visa purposes & most employers in HK won't give same-sex couples insurance benefits either. This is what some of my friends have told me (they've tried, 'though not for a few years).

If you and your partner are opposite sex, you might just want to get married and save yourself some trouble w. the immigration dept.


I've tried to renew my visa once by going to macau and then returned to hong kong. Can i do it again? Has anybody ever get rejected to reenter Hong Kong from Macau??
Are we still allowed to do that???

Dependent visas

Immigration are clear - they require formal proof of relationship and quote "marriage certificate, birth certificate, family photographs and letters (with envelopes)"  Some years ago I tried to sponsor my partner without a marriage certificate and it was a no-go.  They told me the only option for him to stay was for us to marry. 

Renewing visitor visa regularly

I was in this boat with my partner and they let him get away with it three times (he was on an Italian passport) then he was told on the fourth entry to go and see the Immigration Department.  When we got there we were told that they wouldn't grant another entry on a visitor's visa as, due to the short gaps between entries (a week here, two weeks there), in their eyes he was resident and therefore needed a resident visa.  You can't rely on this for too long and last I heard, Macau and Shenzhen, as part of China like us, does not constitute 'leaving the country'.

Renewing visitor visa regularly

Thanks for your reply Fiona.



Foreign nurses working in Hongkong Hospitals

Hi! I was searching the net about hongkong and luckily i clicked your site. The infos listed are very helpful. Anyways, i just want to ask, can foreign nurses like me (from the philippines) work there? I am planning to take the hongkong exam for nurses there hopefully next year.

I was actually there a few weeks ago to take my NCLEX exam and i fell inlove with the place. My boyfriend and I are planning to live and work there after we get married.Right now i am learning cantonese and i am hoping that i can really live there. I am a graduate of two bachelor degrees, one in marketing and one in nursing and right now im working in a hospital here in my country. My husband to be on the other hand had already his masters degree in IT and currently teaching in a school here. He also specializes in Web Development and Design.

I read the infos listed on the different qualifications, do you think we have the chance of getting their approval to live and work there?

Dependant visa for unmarried couple

Hi, I wonder if someone can help with my question. I have been asked to consider moving to Hong Kong with my company. As it is quite a specific role I assume there would be no issues with my working visa. However, my boyfriend is an Australian national aged 34. Would I be able to sponsor him for a dependant visa even if we are not married? We have lived together for two years and can provide proof of our relationship.

Is there any other way he could get a visa to work in Hong Kong?

many thanks!

OK, so I didn't read the

OK, so I didn't read the rest of the thread above...

Seems unlikely then :(

Foreign nurses in HK hospitals

I guess you've already seen the Nursing Council's guidelines?

When our daughters were born in a local private hospital, the nurses included ladies from Malaysia and the UK. I don't know if the local government hospitals take foreign nurses though - I'd guess speaking, reading and writing Chinese would be a requirement there?

Good luck, MrB

Foreigner Born in HK

I was born in Hong Kong in 1984, but I am not of Chinese descent. What sort of privileges do I have in Hong Kong? Do I need a visa for work/extended stay, etc.?

Automatic permanent resident

Automatic permanent resident status if you can show your original HK birth certificate to the Immigration Department of Hong Kong when you apply for your Hong Kong ID card (I don't know the process time of the application, others may fill in here). If you are a PR you don't need any visa to work here.

10. Graduate in Hong Kong

If you study and graduate in Hong Kong, you can then apply for a 12 month work visa without already having a job arranged. The scheme is called "Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG)", and is described in section II here.

It applies to:

persons from outside the HKSAR who have obtained a degree or higher qualification in a full-time and locally accredited programme in Hong Kong. 


To Visit HongKong


I love someone who is from Indonesia but live in Hongkong now.
i want to marry her.I live in bangladesh.How can i go HongKong
and marry her.She is my dream girl and i don't live without her.
Please is possible help me about this matter and i'll be greatful
to all of you.Please let me know as soon as possible.


I'm looking into

I'm looking into options/ways to stay in HK for longer than 3 months. I'm from Canada by the way. My parents were born in HK but they've been in Canada for many years (they don't have the new ID). I was born in Canada - does that mean that I can't get the HK ID?

Any suggestions as to how I could apply to stay longer?

re: I'm looking into

Winnie, see #4 above, then contact immigration to get their opinion on your case. Please let us know what they seay.


Winnie HKID

Winnie, you may still qualify for HKID if at least one of your parents was still a Chinese Citizen (i.e. ethnic Chinese not holding any foreign passport/nationality) at the time of your birth.

The only way to find out is to apply for verification of eligibility for ROA. NB: You will need to be physically in HK to submit your application. Overseas applications are not accepted.

Do you want to stay in HK to work or just as an extended holiday? If the latter then a stop-gap is to just spend a day in Macau near to the end of your current stay allowance. You could probably get at least an extra 3 months extension this way before ImmD start to get suspicious.

Quality Migrant Admission Scheme

Local blogger Wandering Jew is writing about their application to get a visa via the QMAS. It's not clear if they have been accepted or not, but it seems the scheme is now open to a wider range of people than I suggested above.

Link via OrdinaryGweilo.

Questions on IANG

We've been asked:

 I'm not a HK citizen or permanent resident. I'm thinking of moving to HK for school (one yr MSc program). I've done some research online, and found that I will be qualified for the IANG program after graduation.

 To my understanding, as a non-local fresh graduate under IANG, I'm allowed to stay in HK to work for 12 months, and it can be extended later. Does it mean that I don't need work visa sponsor by a company? If I still do need sponsorship, how is this an advantage compared to professionals who just come here looking for work and in need of a work visa?

Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates (IANG) is described on this government webpage. Point #10 says:

Non-local fresh graduates who wish to apply to stay and work in the HKSAR are not required to secure an offer of employment upon application.

And point #18 says:

Persons admitted under the IANG may apply for extension of stay to work in the HKSAR within 4 weeks before their limit of stay expires. Upon application, the non-local graduates are required to secure an offer of employment which is at a level commonly taken up by degree holders and the remuneration package is set at market level.

I read this as saying you don't need a visa in the first 12 months, but you do thereafter. So you have a lot more time to find work, and you can continue to live in HK while you look. That is a lot mor flexible than the usual employment visa.

As always, check with immigration to be sure.


Thank you Mr.B for the

Thank you Mr.B for the comment. I just emailed immigration about it. Do you know how long it will take to get a response?

 I actually have another question. I have a BS and MS in chemical engineering from the US + 1.5 yr of work experiences. I plan to get a MSc in environmental engineering in HK which starts in September. I'm fluent in English and Thai (which I guess its irrelevent in HK). I want to go to HK earlier and try to get an intership. How likely do you think that is? Or is there any 2 to 3-month training or certification program that i can sign up for?

 Thank you for you comments in advance