A Question on Hong Kong Permanent Residency

We receive quite a few immigration relation questions on our Blog and so, not being experts in this space (in fact we’re not really au fait with a lot of what goes on down at Immigration Tower in Wanchai) we asked Stephen D Barnes, author of the Hong Kong Visa Handbook to answer the following recent query we received:

If you change employers, does this impact your accumulation of living in hong kong to be eligible for Permanent ID card after 7 years?”

To secure permanent residency in the HKSAR, you need to make an application for the Right of Abode. The Right of Abode, once granted, is manifested in the issue to you of a Permanent Hong Kong Identity Card.

So, you make an application for a Permanent Identity Card, once approved get the Right of Abode and in the process become a permanent resident of the HKSAR.

Under the Basic Law, the test for approvability for the Right of Abode is as follows:

  1. You must have been continuously and ordinarily resident in the HKSAR for not less than 7 years.
  2. Any absences outside of Hong Kong in that time must have been of a merely temporary nature (as evidenced by your intent at the time you made each departure and what you left behind to return back to after each temporary period of time spent abroad).
  3. You must have taken concrete steps towards making Hong Kong your only place of permanent residence.
  4. There must be no security objection.
  5. You must have no outstanding taxation liabilities.

Consequently, the answer to the question posed hinges on whether changing employers during the requisite time frame is activity which could be said to be ‘ordinary’ in the context of 7 years continuous residence.

And, of course, the answer is yes.

People change jobs and careers all the time in the ordinary course of their lives in Hong Kong. They also get married, divorced, have children, lose family members, start (and close down) their own businesses and go on to rejoin the workforce.

All of this is deemed ‘ordinary’ for the purposes of the approvability test for a Permanent Identity Card. None of these things impact on permanent residence eligibility.

The real concern, however, is if you:

  1. Spend more than 6 months outside of Hong Kong in any given year whilst holding a residence visa, or
  2. Have a lengthy and significant break in your residence visa status during the 7 years.

Both of these can conspire to defeat your eligibility for the Right of Abode and will require careful planning if you are able to anticipate them in the expectation of becoming a Permanent Resident in due course.

With good, advance planning, neither scenario need inhibit you from eventually securing the Right of Abode once the 7 year residence milestone has been passed.


About The Author

A law graduate of the London School of Economics, Stephen D Barnes started his first dedicated Hong Kong immigration practice, LL.B Consultancy, in Kowloon in 1993 straight out of law school. In 1996, Stephen wrote, then published, the first edition of the Hong Kong Visa Handbook on the internet – which went on to be the leading DIY guide to the Hong Kong visa and immigration process. Stephen is an acknowledged expert in all matters relating to Hong Kong immigration and for many years has delivered CPD programmes to the legal and accounting community of the HKSAR. Frequently invited to speak on the topic of Hong Kong visas, Stephen is widely sought after for commentary from the Hong Kong press, to deliver talks to business and HR organisations and appears regularly on Government owned RTHK Radio 3 answering visa and immigration questions live on air


Opinion Poll: July 2012

This month we are interested to see how many of you are considering looking for a new role within the next 6 months. As market sentiment is constantly changing we are keen to see the view from the candidate side and to see how many of you think a change of role may be on the cards in the coming months.

As always we will comment on the results at the end of the month.

Monthly Update: June 2012

Market News

Interest rates were cut in China last month for the first time since 2008 causing the stocks of mainland developers to rise on expectations that it will help reduce their debt servicing costs. There is hope that the move will help a faltering property market.

In Hong Kong, some analysts are predicting that high-end residential rents could fall with some landlords currently discounting their asking prices by as much as 20%! This is on the back of financial institutions holding on their expansion plans and reducing the housing allowances on offer to their staff.

Sentiment in the Shanghai property market seems to be warming as agents there report an increase in the number of transactions and sales following a lean period from October 2011 until the Lunar New Year. Analysts can see signs of a rebound but are cautious in calling things a full recovery. Developers in China are reporting an uplift in sales revenue month-on-month between April and May and on into June. Sentiment generally seems to be improving somewhat which is welcome news after a few months of negative press reports.

Poll Result

In June we asked our readers to vote for the countries in Asia which they felt had the most growth potential over the next 10 years for the Property & Construction industry. The results are below.

A third of all votes were for China. This matches the long term sentiment that our clients/candidates seem to have for the growth prospects in China even if there is a slight slow down in the coming couple of years. Next up was Indonesia – again, this matches what a number of people in the industry think and more and more firms are looking at a strategy to develop their businesses in the Indonesia market. Following Indonesia was India – over the last year we have found sentiment has cooled a bit in the India market with firms a little more cautious on how things will develop long term. The fact there is a population similar to China but less of a focus by companies to be in this market suggests that the India market is not yet ready to boom in the same way. Vietnam and Malaysia were next – we were a little surprised Malaysia wasn’t somewhat higher up with a number of our clients announcing work/projects in the country. Similarly Vietnam seems to have slowed a little in the last year but there still seems to be some positive sentiment for future growth here.

What’s Hot

In June we received many new roles and requirements, particularly from our growing developer client base in China.

On the sales, leasing and business development side, there is strong demand for experienced retail candidates in a number of second and third tier cities. These are positions with top tier international developers who are expanding their retail presences in China and continue to plan to do so. We have roles ranging from Commercial Director down to Assistant Sales Manager with many top names.

We have also secured some exclusive and senior level mandates with some prestigious Chinese growing developers – these are for Project Director level type people who can help these developers construct new high-end projects and make use of their extensive land banks. We are dealing directly with the senior level family members in a number of these organisations and can offer genuinely exciting and interesting career opportunities for Senior Project Managers. Our needs for PM’s at all levels remains both in Hong Kong and China with our clients continuing to take on experienced staff for their projects.

On the design side we have secured some senior level roles with international firms in China – these are currently at early interview stage but will be key appointments for our clients as they look to bolster their presence in China. Roles exist for architects at all levels also in Shanghai and Shenzhen. On the interiors front we have needs for good hotel and corporate candidates in Hong Kong and China. Some of these are to establish and develop newer teams whilst some are with already established design names. Strong all-round designers are preferred – those who know how to generate concepts but also ultimately get them built. We also need good landscape architects in Hong Kong and China along with urban designers for a number of our clients. Again, we have extremely strong client relationships and can offer genuine introductions to key decision makers – we do not just fire out CVs and hope!

Most Urgent Requirements

We have outlined below the urgent vacancies we have had through from clients over the last month.

  • Commercial Director – Guangzhou – A leading role on a Luxury Mixed Use Development
  • General Manager of Mall Leading and Operations – Growing Top International Developer
  • Senior Retail Interior Designer – work on two new landmark schemes in Hong Kong
  • Team Leader/Quantity Surveyor – Senior role with a reputable China developer in Guangzhou
  • Project Director – Top China developer for a Hotel and Retail Development in Guangzhou
  • Landscape Architect – small, growing firm in Shanghai
  • Interior Design Manager – Exclusive role with a top China developer
  • Landscape Architect – Looking for a Project Runner to work with an award winning design firm in Hong Kong
  • Senior Interior Designers – Retail and Hotels – Hong Kong and China – we still need more people here! China experience and language will be important
  • Project Managers – anyone willing to be stationed in China on some truly epic projects!

We also have many, many more roles posted on our website and these are only an overview of our top positions at this time. Please check back regularly. The easiest way to stay up to date with our latest positions is to follow us on Twitter.

Please visit our website for more information on the above roles and our other vacancies:


If you wish to inquire about a position please send an email and your CV to apply@ellicottlong.com.

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