Employment Visas in Hong Kong

We often get asked about the process required to obtain an Employment Visa in Hong Kong. We are not experts on immigration by any means but have been through the process ourselves a couple of times and have also seen many others go through it. This article is therefore designed to act as a guide, based on our experiences and those of other people.

Disclaimer: This guide is not designed as a definitive guide to getting everything visa related but to give an overview of what the author has experienced personally and with candidates. If you are looking for more detailed information we recommend you speak to a specialist visa company in Hong Kong for more information.

The first thing to note is that most companies will organise the employment visa for you. Most will have had prior experience submitting applications and going through the approval process and should be able to talk you through what you need to provide. On some rare occasions companies will be submitting an application for the first time and will need to provide some extra information for immigration purposes but that is usually information they need to provide, not you.

There are a couple of key things to remember with regards to getting an Employment Visa. The first is that you are NOT allowed to start work for a company until you have your employment visa approved and the relevant documents stamped on entry to Hong Kong. Most people submit the application from overseas and then enter Hong Kong with their visa to be stamped at immigration. Sometimes people are already in Hong Kong but a new Employment Visa will require that person to leave the region and have their visa stamped on re-entry. This is generally frowned upon and not recommended. Do not be fooled by your prospective company into thinking that it is ok for you to start work whilst the approval process is under way. IT IS NOT and the company and you can be punished very severely for not adhering to the rules!

Whilst most companies organise and pay for the Employment Visa it’s worth noting a few items that you will need to get together which you may not have ready access to. We often recommend that people start getting this information together early on in the job search process so that once they find work, the visa can be submitted quickly and efficiently. Basically the immigration department wants to ensure that what is on your CV is correct. They will therefore ask for evidence of your qualifications and job history. They will certainly need to see your degree certificate/s and diplomas and have been known to ask for proof of older qualifications too. So go dig out those certificates or re-order them from university or your school/s in readiness. In order to prove your job history the immigration department will also be looking to obtain written references from your previous employers. These don’t have to be references singing your praises but must include the dates of employment that match those on your CV.

You will also need to have a few passport sized photos, a copy of your CV and a copy of your letter of offer or ideally your contract of employment from your future employer. There is a form to complete (please visit http://www.immd.gov.hk/ehtml/home.htm for further information) – sometimes the employer will complete this, sometimes you will have to.

From the employer side they have to in essence prove that there isn’t a Hong Kong resident locally who can fill your position. Typically a company will have to provide proof of this in the form of a rejected candidate list (with CV’s) and a letter outlining the reasons they wish to employ you over a local candidate. The employer will also have to submit business documents, certificates, licences etc and sometimes has to provide a business plan or financial information. If your company or you are unsure on any of this we would advise you both seek professional advice from a specialist employment visa lawyer who can talk you through the procedures.

And that’s about it. It’s a relatively simple process but it can take some time to gather the documentation together. On submission of your application it will take a minimum of 4 weeks to get an initial response. Sometimes there will be a request for further information to be submitted. Generally the whole process takes about 4-8 weeks in most cases. On successful approval the immigration department will send a letter to the employer who will then collect your Employment Visa on your behalf (you may have to sign a letter to say you are happy for them to do so) – this is a sticker that they will send to you and that you put into your passport. On arrival in Hong Kong at immigration you show the sticker, it’s stamped and you can come in to Hong Kong on your new Employment Visa!

It’s then just a case of applying for a Hong Kong ID card within your first few weeks to finish the process.

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3 Responses to Employment Visas in Hong Kong

  1. Nice summary. Have a look at http://www.hongkongvisahandbook.com/hong_kong_visa_handbook_2011_a_guide_to_immigration_employment_investment_work_permit_and_residency_applications.html for the definitive process to securing a Hong Kong employment visa.

  2. Pingback: Employment Visas in Hong Kong – An Interesting Update « Ellicott Long's Blog

  3. Information provided here is very useful .

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