How do I get a work visa in Hong Kong?

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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.



Hi all

I am a Canadian who was born in Hong Kong and have both Hong Kong ID & Canadian citizen. I know I can work in Hong Kong without any problem. My girl, who is a Canadian-Taiwanese and would like to work in Hong Kong too.

Q1. Can she work in Hong Kong if we get married (as my depandant)?

Q2. Can she work in Hong Kong because of her original nationality is Taiwan?

Q3. In case both Q1 & Q2 is a "No", how long can she live in Hong Kong?

Thank you for helping.

Start preparing the wedding invitations

Q1. Yes.

Q2. I don't think so.

As always, for the official answer contact:

Regards, MrB

Work Visa Status


I have got a job in Hong Kong and my hiring company has applied for the Visa. Want to know how long does the process take and what are the chances of rejection? Also is there any way to check the status of the visa application?

Thanks a lot.

visa processing

the immigration department say it takes 4-6 weeks to process...i've found it can vary probably depending on their workload....the sponsor usually indicates when they are hoping you will join

once the application is logged (and if the sponsor attached it to the application) a reply card will be returned stating the case number as a reference...without this it can be hard to check on status but as a sponsor i've had to do this without a reference on a couple of occasions the card didn't get back to me

best starting point is to email stating nationality, name and date of birth

hope this helps

Visa Processing

Hi Fiona,

I actually had the same question as the post that you responded to about visa processing. I'm currently living in Canada, and I also got a job offer from HK, which I plan to move from Canada for. However, they stated they need to apply for a work visa.. I'm unfamiliar with the success rates of these things so I really don't know if I should start getting excited about the new job or not. What are the chances (or reasons) that a sponsored work visa would get rejected?

Also, in terms of nationality, both my parents are Chinese and I was born in HK, but we've since acquired Canadian citizenship. So are we Chinese or Canadian?


Visa Processing

Hello Heidi

With regard to success rate, the company I work for has never had a refusal but then we are a public-listed and highly regarded employer here. The granting of a visa depends not only on the applicant but on the sponsor's credibility as a solid employer.

I have heard a few horror stories from smaller, less well-established employers (small offices with only a few employees) where immigration made them jump through inumerable hoops and in the end refused the visa. Not meaning to scare you but that's the reality of it sometimes.

I believe that if you are using a Canadian passport that your 'nationality' will be listed as Canadian. Though having a HKG birth certificate of Chinese parentage, you should be able to apply for right of abode and a permanent ID card when in HKG (I think!).

Most information can be found here

Good luck!


Chinese or Canadian nationality?

I agree with Fiona there is a good chance you can get a permanent ID card. There are many Hong Kong people with Canadian passports but who still keep a permanent ID card and a local Hong Kong passport too. Our daughters have UK passports, but also have Hong Kong passports and permanent ID cards.

If you can get the permanent ID card, then you won't need a visa to work here, so it's worth checking with the immigration department to see if you can get one. As Fiona pointed out on an earlier message, after checking their website to read the background it's best to send them an email to be sure:



Heidi, if you were born in HK, you should be entitled to a residency and maybe even a Permanent ID card. On your birth certificate you should have a number like A123456{7} which will be your ID card number.

You can be a permanent HK resident with a non-HK passport.

I would suggest contacting the Immigration department:

and asking them directly. Calling them is best.

Chinese or Canadian

Thanks for everyone's thoughtful and helpful replies! From checking out the online resources and calling the immigration department, it sounds like there would be no problem to get a permanent ID.

I was just confused about the first clause of eligibility of right of abode:
"Chinese national born in HK before or after the establishment of the HKSAR".

- I think thats me..but
I've read the definitions on their website, but still not too clear on what makes you a "Chinese National". If you have citizenship elsewhere, are you still considered a "Chinese" on that ROP application?

Update on dependants' permission to work

After all the discussion on this page, it dawned on me that we'd not updated the main article to include the change in regulations at HK Immigration, which now again allow the dependants of those on employment visas to be employed themselves. I've done a quick update, and would appreciate any feedback if I've missed anything or misrepresented the situation in any way!

Mr T

Can I work for free at a

Can I work for free at a company in hk for a few weeks like an internship without a working visa?

About Work Visa

Can I work for free at a company in hk for a few weeks like an internship without a working visa?

Good question . . . .

. . . but I don't know the answer. I think you'd be best off contacting the Immigration Department about this.

HK ID Card


Im sort of in the smae situation as yourself, just wandering if you managed to get your HK ID card?
Any information would help.....
Email: I would appreciate any information


Please help with HK ID question

Dear all,

Please can someone give me some advice on this.

I was born in Guang Dong, China and migrated to UK when i was very young. I'm holding a British passport and a British citizen right now. I wanted to know if i want to move and work in HK and get a HK ID card, is there any possible ways for this to happen? is it true that it's impossible to get a HK ID card if i was not born in HK?

Any reply will be gratefully apprecaited.


Seems unlikely

if you weren't born in HK, and you've never held an HK ID card in the past. As always, to be sure it's best to contact the immigration dept.

Good luck, MrB

visa - allowing employment

I go to school here and am trying to get a part time job with my friends. I have a dad that is sponsored by his company so therefore he has an employment visa and i have a dependant one.
I know my visa allows employment, its about a year old now though. Do you know which years allowed employment and which years did not?

Dependants can work

so I think you'll be ok. See this sentence from the quote above:

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.

If in doubt, contact the immigration dept to be sure.

Regards, MrB

Work visa appeal

Hi all!

I have just been refused a work visa on the usual grounds - no special contribution and preference for a local hire... My sponsor is appealong the decision and I would like to ask how does the process look, as there seems to be very little information about this. Is a repeat of the process?

I greatly appreciate any help...

If you have found an answer

If you have found an answer to this, I'd like to hear it. I have someone who also wants to do an internship in Hong Kong for about three months.



Moving to HK - visa

My wife and I are thinking of moving to HK for a few years and I want to know what the visa situation will be for me. We have lived in NYC for the last 10 years. My wife is Chinese from Hong Kong and has a Hong Kong passport and also an American permanent resident card. I am American. Can I stay in HK for as long as I want? Can I work?

You shouldn't have any limits on living and working here

See the "A5" answer at the start of this thread, then check with immigration to confirm your wife meets those conditions.


Nationality and Citizenship

Nationality and Citizenship are almost always interchangeable terms. In your case, you are a Canadian National of Chinese descent or a Canadian National of Chinese Ethnic Origin. Nationality does not always refer to your Race or Ethnic Background, just how anyone born and raised in the US is an American National by default, regardless of race or ethnicity.

live and work in hk

me and my girlfriend is planning to get merried, but im a half chinese and filipino a filipino citizen and my girlfriend is a permanet resident in hong kong and she work their, it is possible for me to work and live in hong kong after we get married


I'm a UK national planning to move to HK later this year to live and work.

Am I able to enter HK on a holiday basis, find myself an employment sponsor and then apply for a work visa whilst still technically on 'holiday'?

Work visa

Yes you can but be warned, there are not so many jobs for non Cantonese speakers to get. It depends what you do.

Work Visa - Application Abroad?

I have got a job in Hong Kong for a Trading Company and braught the loads of contacts we now deal with from Europe with me. I started on the 1st of August but already went back to Germany to some old partner firms to discuss business opertunities.
My employee now gave me the eomplyment contract and told me the easiest would be if I applied for the work Visa in Germany. Is that the case?

I am flying back this week and if the above is correct, where do I go in Germany? To the Chinese Embassy or is there a Hong Kong embassy in Germany?

It would be great if someone could help me on this... Thanks a lot!


Work Visa


 Having a contract is not a guarantee of a work visa.  My suggestion is that your employer in Hong Kong makes the application with the Immigration Department here.  They will just have to get you to complete some forms and provide them with copies of references and diplomas, etc., plus a photograph.

 They can then handle the application as your sponsor and are more able to assist with additional enquiries relating to your employment, upon which the visa is issued.  To take this to a Chinese Embassy (that is where you would have to file outside Hong Kong), is a more protracted and less efficient way of doing this.

 I have handled countless applications and have always done it this way, taking on the responsibility as the employee's sponsor.  Perhaps your company is small and hasn't done much of this, but it really is a VERY simple thing to do and all their forms are available online, together with guideline notes, at

 Hope this helps!


Working Without A Work Visa

Oh and Henry, you stated that you have been working since 1 August.  If you have received any kind of salary or fee for services while on a tourist visa, be careful about that.  It is illegal to do so and it could negatively influence your application.  Neither you nor your employer should make any kind of declaration to that effect.

Are you a german citizen? If

Are you a german citizen? If you are a german citizen then you can apply from your home country or from HK.

The immigration dept has many rules, and it is case by case, so you better check with them. generally they tell that you have to leave HK when they are processing teh visa, but many of my friend did not leave Hk and they got the visa. In order to activate the visa you can go to Shenzhen.

 ther are some people who work while waiting for the visa, but it is illegal. Generally working visa should take about 2-6 weeks. So be careful about working without visa.