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 Without a Work Visa

Well my contract started on the 1st of August (or is supposed to) and on the 3rd I already went to Europe... So I didn´t recieve any pay yet and we would wait for my payment untill I have a work Visa. As I have been working with another company (and I have a contract with a Danish Firm) they said if the process takes too long untill I have my work Visa they will just pay me a consultant fee towards through the other company... And I don´t mind paying taxes for any pay that I will recieve some time in September when I should get my "normal" pay...

German citizen

Hi Shyam,
thanks for your reply.
I actually have a German and a British Passport but I mainly use my British one to get in and out of Hong Kong...
As I am going back to HK this week (to play some football for USRC) I will go to the place here in Hamburg and apply for the work visa today... And if they tell me I can´t be in Hong Kong thats no problem I have to go on a roundrip in Asia selling some products anywas so that will take some weeks... (But that would be work for the new company really)...

But Cheers for all your help and if I have more questions (or problems) I´ll be back!




I have a question regarding change job for foreigner in hong kong.
If I apply for a job in Hong Kong and the company is willing to sponsor the visa for me and then the immigration approve the working visa. Then, i work for that company for couple of months and i don't feel comfortable with the job and I want to change my job. For instance, i get another job and the company also want to sponsor a working visa for me. Do i need to redo the process of applying the working visa? Will it be easier ? Do i need to go out from Hong Kong to wait for the next working visa? Do i need to be in my home country to wait for the working visa??


Just go to the immigration and do a transfer of already have a work permit so you don't need to apply for a new one. Just need to do a change of employer. Easily done and usually no hassles involved, just forms to fill.

Thanks. I thought i have to

Thanks. I thought i have to redo the whole process and go back to my home country again.

Returning to HK to work

Hey all

I was born in Hong Kong and have a Hong Kong birth certificate, I was educated there up to early high school and after living there for 14 years my family returned to the UK where I have since lived and gained my hons degree as an interior architect with 2 years experience (1 as head designer).I am of Scottish blood.

I have my HK ID card, which is now out of date, and am very interested in returning to Hong Kong to live and work. I have not been offered work, but have not been applying.

Q: Does anyone know wheather I have any birth right to regain citizenship, and if not, does my birth there put me in any better sted to gaining a working visa? i am gratefull of any advice.


Right of abode

Hi there,

I guess you could refer to these:

Based on your description of having a birth certificate it is very likely that you have the right of abode.


Thanks for the help So it

Thanks for the help

So it appears that I do hold the right to abode on production of my birth cert. I understand that a fee is required to obtain a copy. Any idea where I can get this from? I am not sure I still have a copy

I apologise for being a pest.


You'd need to be in Hong

You'd need to be in Hong Kong, and then head to the Births and Deaths office in Admiralty to apply to get a new copy of your birth certificate. However, it will take some time to get it done. When I needed to get my ID card, it took almost a month for them to have a new birth certificate made. However, you do have your old ID card, which may speed things up.

Proof of identity

Hi there,

Other than your old ID card, if you have any other proof like School records, Health Records, those could help to. It's just that you would have to make an appointment with the Government respective departments and be in town to get things done.

Two of my nephews had just done it. Their family moved to Toronto when they were five or six years old and just came back to apply for their ID cards. I think my cousin had brought all their former documents with them so it is just a matter of time before it is done. A matter of weeks, I would say.


just born here

Dear all,

I'dd like some help. I was born in HK in 1987. My mom was just passing through and ended up staying for 9 months to deliver me. Someone told me to check if my birth certificate said "established" or "not established" and that would affect whether i could get the right to live in Hk or not, or to work here. Any comments?

Would appreciate any help.

Mr. K

Work visa requirement..

I have applied for a job in Hong Kong and the company are prepared to sponsor but I ma having to sort out the application.

I am British born chinese as both my parents were born in HK but I only hold a UK passport.

Any advice would be gratefully received.


Work Visa requirement

Hi Mimi,

If you want a work visa, it's worth checking Fiona's comment above, and seeing if the local company can apply on your behalf.

You might also consider contacting the immigration department to see if you have Right of Abode. (See point #4 here). In that case you can work here without needing a separate work visa.


I have got a one year

I have got a one year working visa in hk (first time), do i usually get the working visa for 2 years next time when i apply for it?

Is it usually easier to get working visa for a second time even with a different employer?

my HK residency

hi there!

I used to have a Hong Kong Residency card when I was still studying in highschool, but then I haven't renewed my visa for a while since I had to go back to the Philippines due to my mother's illness and I had to continue my studies there. Now that I am in university I am wondering if it is still possible to renew my residency card, I used to be sponsored by my mother who is a permanent resident. I plan to take my masters degree in Hong Kong. What should I do? and just in case i can't renew my Hong Kong residence card, what are my other alternatives so that I can continue my studies or work in Hong Kong?

Please do reply. Thank you

Want to work in Hong Kong


I'm currently living in the UK but I'm South African and my visa expires on the 12th of March 2008. Do I need a visa to be able to work in Hong Kong or if I was able to go to Hong Kong on a 3 month basis without a visa would I be able to work in Hong Kong?

Many thanks,

See the start of the

See the start of the article: 

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.

Please Help!

Hi All,

So sorry if I am repeating so many previous questions :)

I am Australian, and I currently live & work in the UK on a visa that expires in June.

My g/f of 5 years was born in hk, has an HK ID card is here with me. We are trying to find out any way that I can go to HK with her and take up work.

I am a professional, and sponsorship is not out of the question, however would rather not be restricted to my company. Is there any Civil partnership visas etc that apply in HK?

Also, do employers see applying for sponsorships a hassle? or is it a very regular thing in HK? Does it cost them much money?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Civil Partner visa

see here for info. Also see point #5 here for another option.

Some of Fiona's comments above talk about sponsorship from an employer's viewpoint - I think it is considered a hassle, a necessary evil if the right person for the job is an expat.

Good luck, MrB

Applying training/work visa while in Hong Kong


I will have a 6 month work assignment in Hong Kong for a well known international company. My salary and all expenses are paid by my home unit in Finland which is also my home country. Is it possible, that I come to the country first without a visa and then apply it there?


Re: Applying training/work visa while in Hong Kong

Is it possible, that I come to the country first without a visa and then apply it there?

If you read the 'Visit Visa / Entry Permit Requirements for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region' page, you'll see that:

  • As a resident of Finland you'll get a 90-day visitor's visa on arrival
  • 6.    Visitors are not allowed by law to take up employment (paid or unpaid), to establish or join in any business, or to enter school as a student, nor, except in the most unusual circumstances, are visitors allowed to change their immigration status after arrival.
  • 11.    Persons who need a visa or entry permit for visit (or purposes other than a visit) should obtain the appropriate visa or entry permit before travelling to the HKSAR.

So in theory you need to get yoiur visa arranged before you arrive. In practice, I'm not sure how strictly that is enforced - eg can you arrive on a visitor's visa, arrange the new work/training visa, then leave the country for the weekend and re-enter on the new visa? Does anyone have experience of this?

Also I'm not sure exactly which visa you will get, as you want to work in HK, but you won't actually be employed by a Hong Kong company. Can the company you'll be working for in Hong Kong give you more information, eg how have they handled similar visitors in the past?

If you don't get any other responses, I'd recommend you or your company call the immigration department to explain what you are planning and ask what they recommend.

Good luck, and please let us know what you find out.


"...can you arrive on a

"...can you arrive on a visitor's visa, arrange the new work/training visa, then leave the country for the weekend and re-enter on the new visa? Does anyone have experience of this?"

I've done this and know lots of others who have. In my case, my employer needed me to start work quick, so asked me to come over and start working while he processed my application with the authorities. Agreed to do so as he actually told me that this was acceptable procedure. Don't know whether it's really true but, as it turns out, I got my work visa. So it would seem that the authorities were okay about it.

Working Visa


I am an US citizen and plan to come to HK to find employment. Has anyone ever used the recruiting agency such as Michael Page? I believe I can come to HK for 90 days and plan to use this time to look for employment. Is it possible to change visa from visitor to employment visa if I get a job offer?

Thank you,

Questions in Applying for Dependant Visa


My background is very complicated. Me and my husband has just been married abroad. However when he applied for his job in Hong Kong. He stated he was single. Now i hope to apply for a dependant visa to enter hong kong and hope to find a job as well. but i'm not sure whether my husband is able to apply one for me because when the company applied for his employment visa, he stated single.

What should I do?? Doesit matter? Does the dependant visa application need to go through his compny? Would aplpying for a dependant visa for me complicate things with his company?? please try ur best to advise me on what we should do?? I really miss my husband now.

Baffled and lost,
lost gil

Dependent Visa

Hi Gil

 The application for your dependent visa (proof required is your marriage certificate - translated into English if necessary) isn't associated with your husband's employer.  Your husband is in fact your sponsor for a dependent visa.  There is no reason they would deny you a dependent visa so long as you can validate your relationship.  I wouldn't worry about your husband having to change his 'status' with his company, unless they have some dependent benefits they didn't plan on covering (increased cost to them).

 Your dependent visa should allow you to work in Hong Kong.

 For the dependent visa, go to this link : and complete forms for 'Dependent Visa', i.e. ID936(E) form A, B, I and L.  Remember, the sponsor is your husband so he completes the sponsor sections, you complete the applicant sections.

 This is if your husband already has his Hong Kong visa - if not, ask his company to include your dependent visa application with his.  There is a $160 charge at the time you pick up the visa.

 Good luck!


Fiancee in HK

My fiancee works in Hong Kong on a work visa and I would love to move there to be with her rather than waiting for her contract to expire so she can move here. My question is, is it possible for me to just marry her in Hong Kong and then stay and work as a dependant spouse? I am trying to find a company that will sponsor me for my own work visa, but I'm not certain of the availability in my field for non-locals. Thanks for any comments and advice.


re: Fiancee in HK

Getting married here is straightforward. And in general getting a dependant visa is ok too, but ... I'm not sure how fussy the immigration dept are about how long you've been married. I suppose if they are trying to stop the use of 'marriage of convenience' to get residence here, then at worst you'd need to provide some evidence of a long-term relationship.

Has anyone got experience of this?

To be sure, you should contact the immigration dept and find out the official line.

Let us know how it goes.

Good luck, MrB

open my own business

I am not a HK resident and do not have HK ID or work visa,
How hard would it be and what do I need to open my own business in HK and sponsor my own visa? Is it even possible?

Thanks for the help,


re: open my own business

John, I think you're looking at options 7 or 8 here. Check out the link on number 8, I think the examples she quotes will be helpful.

Good luck, MrB

Dear MrB: thanks for the

Dear MrB:

thanks for the help.