“Dear Visa Geeza. Can I extend the 3 years needed to keep my Right of Abode?”
I original published this video in January 2022, when we were very much ‘peak Covid’ in Hong Kong. I shot the video in response to dozens of emails each week from permanent residents who had been absent or were coming up for being absent from Hong Kong continuously for three years because of the pandemic.
Can I Extend The 3 Years Needed To Keep My Right of Abode – In Other Words …. Will ImmD Make An Exception For Me?
The question essentially amounts to this. Can the Immigration Department make an exception for those foreign nationals who originally secured permanent residency after seven years continuous ordinary residence, but for one reason or another, find themselves away from Hong Kong during the pandemic for an extended period of three years?
Namely, any chance of them being able to get some sort of waiver or other dispensation due to the challenges that COVID is bringing to everyone’s ability to get back to Hong Kong quarantine free?
Unfortunately, the Director of Immigration doesn’t have the power to waive the one-in-3-year-rule as the Right of Abode is an instrument of the Basic Law.
This means that unless and until as a permanent resident in Hong Kong, the foreign national permanent resident of Hong Kong you have been physically present in Hong Kong on at least one occasion any three year given period, you will be by operation of law automatically downgraded to the Right to Land in the event that you are unable to get back here for the one in three year criteria.
There is occasional exception where the absence was involuntary, such as imprisonment or extended hospitalization.
So what does loss of Right of Abode after 3 years mean in real terms?
Well, actually, the Right to Land downgrade that occurs, while sits, you know, disappointing in order to say something positive about that bottom line is that the rights that accompany the right time, that’s the right to work, the right to respond to family members who are dependent loses the right to sponsor, elderly parents who depend on these as some of the other rights that accrue with the Right of Abode are not lost. You do not have the right not to be deported, but you can’t be removed from Hong Kong.
Functionally, the Right to Land is the same as the Right of Abode, albeit you can be deported.
The difference for the most part practically falls to whether or not as a permanent resident holding the Right of Abode you can qualify for things like the scheme HKD6000 and other free money giveaways that the government occasionally avails to Hong Kong to permanent residents.
It’s those types of things but in a very pure practical sense, if you are downgraded to the right to essentially it means you can come back to Hong Kong at any point in the process and pick up your life from wherever you left it off.
You don’t need any permission of the Hong Kong Immigration Department to do that.
And seven years of continuous on residence later, you can then subsequently apply for Right of Abode once again.
More Stuff You May Find Interesting or Useful
Will The 2 Years I Spent Studying In China Break My Continuous Residence For Hong Kong Right Of Abode?
I Have Lived In Hong Kong For 5 Years – Can I Extend My Work Visa For 2 Years, Quit My job, Study Full Time Then Apply For The Right Of Abode?
What Can Be Said To Constitute Ordinary Residence For The Purposes Of A Hong Kong Right of Abode Application?