How do I get a work visa in Hong Kong?

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.


working in hong kong

I wondered if anyone would know if I am able to work in Hong Kong as an artist? I wanted to try to get a couple of contracts as an artist (like face painting or a mural) when I go there to help pay for the trip; I will be there for three weeks.



"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. "

I wouldn't be at all surprised if, in the coming wave of unemployment which seems all too inevitable, this is rescinded.

permission for work

reply required as above said question

Hi, I'm from far north of


I'm from far north of China, and  have been in HK for almost one year as a student in hku. I will gratuate in this July and want to work here. Could it be easier to apply a work visa with that background? By the way, I am sponsored by CMI (a governmental department of HK) under an exchange program.

Many Thanks!

re: from far north

See if the IANG can help you get started.

Potential HK working visa- do I need to stay in my home country?

Hi! I am an Australian who is potentially going to be sponsered by a Hong Kong company. I understand I have to be sponsered to obtain a working visa for Hong Kong, and I also understand this may take up to 4-6 weeks.

I was wondering if I had to be in my home country to apply and wait for this visa to go through? I would ideally like to wait for my visa in the UK for those 4-6 weeks- would it be possible to apply for my visa application throught the Chinese (or is it a Hong Kong?) Consulate Embassy in London? or do I have to do it in my home country? I have an Australian passport.

Any help or information would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

re: do I need to stay in my home country?

If you follow Fiona's advice above, and let the sponsoring company handle communications with the immigration department, I think you won't have to submit any documents yourself. So it wouldn't matter where you were staying while the visa application is processed. Best to check with your sponsoring company to be sure.

Let us know how it turns out,


Work Visa


I am a girl who will graduate from university. I only have PRC ID card.

I have a contract with a small company in HK. Now, my employer has made the application with the Immigration Department. I don't know whether the success rate is very low. I am very worry about it. Thank you!


re: Work Visa


Sorry, but I'm not sure what your chances are. If it doesn't work out, you may also want to check whether the IANG scheme applies to you, as it says that: "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."

Good luck, and please let us know how it turns out.

Regards, MrB

Work Visa

Hi MrB,

Thank you for your help.

I am afriad I don't belong to non-local fresh graduates, because I hold PRC ID card and study in Macau. Maybe I belong to Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals. But I am a fresh graduate and I don't have much work experience. My work experience is that I just worked in summer holidays. My company is a small one. It just has several employees. But the company has a factory in mainland. And, it has over 800 employees there. The market of the company is overseas. It is the first time of the company to apply for the work visa. My position is Sales Executive.

I am now waiting anxiously for the result. After scanning the articles in the website, I think the success rate is very low. The result will turn out in one month, I will tell you then.




Renew work visa

My work visa ends 7th September. I am changing job in the process and my new employer is going to help me renew visa. I want to know what are the chances of visa renewal? Will it be easier to get approved than the first time?

Thanks for the

Thanks for the information!

My employer did do all the paperwork for me, so in the end- as long as you have a postal address so they can send you your visa- it doesnt matter if you're in your native country or not. 

Evidently- for people asking how long their visa took- mine took 11 weeks. Be prepared for hiccups and questions from Immigration Dept. Sometimes getting a visa isnt as easy as you'd hoped!

Thanks again for all your help!

Good news

Congratulations on getting the visa, and thanks very much for writing back with tips for future readers.


dear sir,

my name is ABBA as you can see above sir my question is that, can it be possible for an international student to get a work visa in hong kong like student study bsc in IT or Msc in IT after completed his study? if yes what are the procedures?

thank you best regrads 

re: question

Abba, there is a type of work visa for international students who have graduated in Hong Kong. Details here.

Good luck, MrB

Obataining dependent work visa through my Wife

I read a lot of comments to see if this one was already answered so forgive me if this is a repeat.  My wife is getting a visa sponsored through her employer as she is going to teach English in HK. I am a financial professional still seeking employment.  Even though she is female, can I still obtain a dependent visa once she obtains hers? Or can a husband not be a dependent to a wife? Don't mean to be sexist, but I am planning on buying a ticket from NYC soon and I need to know. Thanks in advance!


The relevant section of the Immigration regulations FAQs on dependents seem not to distinguish between sexes, i.e. a spouse of either sex can therefore be a dependent. But if you're concerned about it, you can just email or call the Immigration Department, and make sure.

male dependents

yes, you will qualify for a dependent visa, even if your wife is the sponsoring spouse. I am also a dependent husband.

Just a word of advice though. I have heard on the grapevine (no concrete confirmation) that your application will be much smoother if you say that you will not be seeking work. Of course once you have the visa, then you can get any work you wish - whereas your wife's visa is linked purely to her sponsoring job.

Obviously your DV validity is directly linked to your wife's work visa. Once her visa expires, so will yours (and your ability to work)

male dependents

Thank you kindly for the advice. I am even more excited now.  I do find it strange, however, that the government would not want me seeking work if I am applying for a DV. Are you suggesting that they would want me to stay at home and she would be my sugar mama? I actually would love that but it wouldn't work hahaa. Also, her employer would have nothing to do with my DV correct? We would submit my application to the proper government agency and her employer wouldn't be "sponsoring" me as well. Thanks again for the help everyone. Some good people here.

re: male dependents

well, I did say it was a rumour, perhaps stemming from the very strict localisation policy in force here and the fact that the ability for DV holders (when sponsored by Work Visa holders) to work has only recently been introduced (2006?).

Yes, correct, your wife's company has nothing to do with the DV application as SHE will be your sponsor for that. But as mentioned, the time limit of her work visa will also be the time limit of your DV and may possibly be a limiting factor for you when you come to apply for jobs - that and the fact that even though this policy change occured in 2006, some people/prospective employers may still not be aware of it.

Anyway, best of luck with the move.

Hi, I am a canadian


I am a canadian citizen/resident. I also have a British passport. I was born in HK in 1989 and lived there till 1993. then I left, came back for 2 years from 1995-97 ish. Im looking to intern there this summer and was wondering whether I needed a visa.



Hi Anon;

We've got a another thread going that may help to answer your question.

Mr Tall

Help - GEM, not qualified

Hi There,

I'm officially of Australian nationality, but was born in Guangdong (moved to oz since 3 yrs old).

I had to defer my studies of a double degree due to personal issues after 1.5 years of studies at university. Thus, i do not have a completed degree, but I have transcripts and specific industry knowlede.

Any chance I would be approved a VISA in HKSAR? My employer is also a listed HK company, with several expats on the books and a healthy balance sheet.


re: Help - GEM, not qualified

If your employer wants to move you to Hong Kong, there's a good chance you'll get a visa.

Or how about option #5 over here?

Good luck, and please let us know how it turns out.


PS What's does GEM stand for?