You want to begin a new chapter of your life in Hong Kong (香港 “Fragrant Harbour” in English). Fabulous, you are not alone. Countless harbour dreams of counting the Fragrant Harbour as their home.
Beyond the lavish lifestyle, the world-class food and the impeccable fashion that line the streets, Hong Kong has a reputation for offering extremely attractive expat packages. This encompasses a high cash salary, low tax and benefits including accommodations, international schools for your children as well as a car to get around.
Who would say no to that? Furthermore, the city’s tumultuous political landscape has provided an unlikely opportunity: Against the backdrop of a global effort by employers to reduce the attractiveness of expat packages in 2019, Hong Kong increased expats’ salaries, incentivizing talents to seek jobs there.
Looking for a promising financial future? Check. Better quality of life? Dim sum and prestigious departmental stores await you. 2020 was a difficult year for everybody. Perhaps you need a change of scenery. Hong Kong is one such place to pursue your dreams. For expats dreaming of moving to Hong Kong in a job-related capacity, you will have to apply for one of the following employment visas:
- General Employment Policy (GEP) scheme;
- Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP);
- Immigration Arrangements for Non-Local Graduates (IANG);
- Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents.
General Employment Policy scheme (GEP)
The work visa under the GEP scheme’s applicability is by far the most far-reaching and applicable to expats interested in working in Hong Kong. There is neither a set quota nor any requirement of finding work in a certain sector for the GEP scheme. This scheme excludes nationals from the following countries: China, Afghanistan, Cuba, Laos, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nepal and Vietnam.
Your application under the GEP scheme will be more favourably considered should you meet the following criteria:
- You possess no security objection and have no known record of serious crimes;
- You have a good education background, especially when you possess 1st class qualification in your relevant field. However, in special circumstances, good technical qualifications, a proven track record of professional abilities and/or relevant experience and achievements supported by documentary evidence may result in acceptance;
- There is a genuine job vacancy;
- The applicant has a confirmed employment offer and the employment relates to his/her academic qualifications or work experience which is unable to be readily fulfilled by the local workforce;
- The remuneration package offered by the employer inclusive of income, accommodation, medical and other fringe benefits is largely proportionate with the existing market level for professionals in Hong Kong.
Your application for accompanying dependents may be favourably considered if:
- There is reasonable proof of a genuine relationship between the sponsor and his/her dependant/s;
- The dependant in question does not possess any known record that is to his/her detriment;
- The sponsor is capable of supporting the dependant’s living in Hong Kong at a standard well above mere subsistence level and can provide him/her with appropriate accommodation in Hong Kong.
The gateway to a brighter future can be achieved through completing two simple forms: form ID 990A and form ID 990B. You can download the forms here: https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/forms/hk-visas/employment-as-professionals.html.
Upon completion, mail the forms to the Immigration Department in Hong Kong and await (hopefully) good news!
Should your application be accepted under the GEP scheme, you will be able to stay in Hong Kong for 24 months on employment condition or in accordance with the duration of your contract, whichever is shorter. You may apply to extend your stay within 4 weeks of your stay expiring, and if accepted, your extension will follow the 3-3 years pattern.
You may also apply to bring in to Hong Kong your spouse/partner to a same-sex civil union and unmarried dependants under the age of 18. The applicant shall be the sponsor of their accompanying dependants to Hong Kong.
Admission Scheme for Mainland Talents and Professionals (ASMTP)
The ASMTP scheme is only applicable to Chinese nationals. Chinese nationals must have special skills and/or knowledge that are not readily available in Hong Kong, and said special skills and/or knowledge must complement the local workforce and increase Hong Kong’s competitiveness in the global market.
Applications under this scheme are most commonly rejected under the eligibility criteria, more specifically, the employee in question does not possess any special skill, knowledge or experience that is not already readily available in Hong Kong, where the posting can be readily fulfilled by the local workforce, or the remuneration package offered is not proportionate to the existing market levels for professionals in the respective fields.
Applications should also complete form ID 990A and form ID 990B, available here: https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/forms/hk-visas/employment-as-professionals.html. Again, mail it to the Immigration Department in Hong Kong. The duration of stay for the ASMTP scheme is the same as the GEP scheme – 24 months, and possible to extend.
Immigration Arrangements for Non-Local Graduates (IANG)
The IANG scheme applies to current and past non-local students who have been awarded an undergraduate or higher qualification in a full-time locally accredited Hong Kong programme wishing to stay and/or return for work in Hong Kong.
Like the GEP scheme, the IANG scheme is quota-free and non-sector specific. This scheme excludes nationals from the following countries: Afghanistan, Cuba, Laos, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Nepal. Vietnamese nationals may be eligible under the IANG scheme where they are a recipient of an undergraduate or higher qualification in a locally-accredited local programme in Hong Kong offered by the University Grants Committee-funded institutions, excluding self-financing institutions offered by the relevant institutions and programmes offered by the continuing and professional education arms of the respective institutions.
Applications should apply using form ID 990A and form ID 990B (I know, I know. They all use the same forms.) You can download it here:
The IANG scheme however will normally grant a preliminary 12 month stay period upon successful application. To apply for an extension, non-local graduates must have secured employment at a degree level where the remuneration satisfies the market level.
Admission Scheme for the Second Generation of Chinese Hong Kong Permanent Residents
This scheme applies to second-generation emigrated Chinese Hong Kong permanent residents wishing to return to work in Hong Kong. This scheme excludes nationals from the following countries: Afghanistan, Cuba, Laos, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nepal and Vietnam.
To be eligible under this scheme, applicants will have to meet the following criteria:
- To be aged between 18 – 40 at the time of application;
- Be born overseas (i.e. not in the Mainland, Hong Kong, Macao or Taiwan);
- To have at least one parent be a holder of a valid Hong Kong Permanent Identity Card at the time of application and was a Chinese national who had settled overseas during the applicant’s birth;
- Have a good education background, especially a 1st class qualification in the relevant field. However, in special circumstances, good technical qualifications, a proven track record of professional abilities and/or relevant experience and achievements supported by documentary evidence may result in acceptance;
- Is proficient in written and spoken Chinese (Putonghua/Cantonese) or English;
- Possess financial means sufficient to meet the living expenses (including dependants, if any), maintenance and accommodation in Hong Kong without the need to seek recourse to public funds.
Applicants should use form ID 1017 (a different form!), downloadable here: https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/forms/hk-visas/assg.html
Successful applicants will be allowed a 12-month stay period without other conditions of stay and where extension is successfully granted, will be able to remain on the 2-2-3 years extension pattern without other conditions of stay.
Quality Migrant Admission Scheme
This scheme is quota-based. Its objective is to attract highly skilled persons to Hong Kong. Successful applicants are not required to have secured an offer of employment in Hong Kong before they are permitted to enter. Applicants must first fulfil a set of prerequisites before they are eligible to obtain points under one of two tests: General Points Test and Achievement-based Test.
Applicants can apply by completing Form ID (E) 981, downloadable here: https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/forms/hk-visas/quality-migrant-admission.html
Should you be admitted under the General Points Test, you may stay for an initial 24 months and apply for an extension after. Persons admitted under the Achievement-based test can stay up to 8 years and subsequently apply for an extension.
Technology Talent Admission Scheme
Are you a self-certified tech guru? In all seriousness, should you have a degree or are engaged in the areas of artificial intelligence, biotechnology, cybersecurity, 5G communications etc. you could be eligible under this scheme.
Applicants should complete Part A of application form ID 1024, downloadable here: https://www.immd.gov.hk/eng/forms/hk-visas/techtas.html
Successful applicants will be granted an initial 24 months stay and should you wish to extend, that would be possible too.
To conclude, there are many schemes by which an individual can enter Hong Kong in a job-related capacity. The GEP scheme, however, remains the most relevant for most interested applicants due to its wide inclusivity, general application and no set quota. Hong Kong is a terrific country to grow your career, filled with many wonderful opportunities, and even start your own family. Who knows? You are the master of your fate, capital of your soul. Good luck!