Can I Extend My Hong Kong Visitor Visa Due to Travel Difficulties Caused By COVID19?
What’s the deal if you come to Hong Kong as a visitor, seeking to remain in Hong Kong as a visitor due to COVID19, such that you can’t “come and go” in the normal fashion that people historically have done, typically via what I’ve called the Shenzen shuffle, where even Macau is presently closed to this end, too.
Flying in and flying out of anywhere these days, inevitably entails some considerable exposure to an enforced stay in a Designated Quarantine Hotel.
Given the 2 weeks (or whatever it is, from time to time) that you must suffer as make your entry into Hong Kong as a visitor, what’s the attitude of the Immigration Department to extending visitor status?
Well, I can tell you now for at least 12 months, the Hong Kong ImmD have generally been positively minded towards extending visitor status for visitors who find themselves here, for some good reason and who can’t travel easily out of Hong Kong and therefore need to be availed of lawful status that will enable them to remain here to shelter in place, so to speak.
Consequently, as long as you have got a good reason for being here, you’ve got the support of a local resident, you have sufficient means to be able to successfully complete an extended period of stay as a visitor and you can show that you got a place to stay while you complete your extended period of stay as a visitor, at this moment in time, the Immigration Department are granting 30 day extensions almost routinely, if you’ve got all those positive circumstances in play for you, as underpinning the reason why you need an extension to visitor status.
There is another mechanism that the Immigration Department are deploying too, called discretionary leave to remain.
What this is all about is if the Immigration Department feel that your stay in Hong Kong as a visitor has reached the maximum amount of time that you’re allowed to remain as a visitor in Hong Kong under normal circumstances (typically that’s no more than 180 days continuously in a six month given period) then they’re not going to kick you out notwithstanding.
Instead they’re saying no, we’re not going to grant you an extension to your visitor visa, however, we’re going to give you discretionary leave to remain essentially it for another 30 days. And you’re expected to leave Hong Kong at the end of those 30 days.
They also give you a visa refusal letter along with a document in a sealed envelope that you’re supposed to present to the Immigration Officer at the airport when you leave clearing you to depart.
This document denotes that as long as you exit Hong Kong before the date detailed therein, you will not be deemed an overstayer so you are cleared for departure in those circumstances.
The good news is that our experience has been that the Immigrantion Department are positively considering subsequent applications for extensions to the discretionary leave to remain. and we’re not really seeing any instances of people being kicked out as visitors (but you MUST have a good reason for your subsequent extension).
Moreover, you need to be able to demonstrate that you’re not going to be a risk of breaching your conditions of stay by taking up unauthorized employment. That means you’ve got to have the funds and you’ve got to have a place to stay to cover the period that immigration are prepared to extend you for.