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Do You Need to Have Been Physically Present in Hong Kong for a Full Seven Years (i.e 2555 Days All Told) in Order to Qualify for Hong Kong Permanent Residency?

December 27th, 2017

Posted by / in Long Stay & PR, Your Question Answered / 52 responses


 

Sometimes even the big name publications can get their facts (and law) wrong… do you need to have been physically present in Hong Kong for a full seven years (i.e 2555 days all told) in order to qualify for Hong Kong permanent residency?

SMALL-keep-calm-and-ask-the-visa-geeza

QUESTION

Dear Stephen,

The Wall Street Journal guide to HK states (here: http://guides.wsj.com/hong-kong/guide-to-hong-kong/visas-and-residency/ ), concerning the application for the right of abode, that “foreign nationals need to have stayed in Hong Kong for a continuous seven years.

If one traveled for a month outside Hong Kong within a seven-year period, then he or she needs to have resided in Hong Kong for at least seven years and one month.”

Is that last sentence accurate?

A related question:

In some sources, I have read that any continuous absences from Hong Kong of over 6 months need to be listed (and explained) in the application.

Some sources say that whenever one is absent more than 6 months within a year (whether continuous or not), this has to be listed (and explained).

Could you clarify?

 Thanks so much.

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The Hong Kong Visa Geeza (a.k.a Stephen Barnes) is a co-founder of the Hong Kong Visa Centre and author of the Hong Kong Visa Handbook. A law graduate of the London School of Economics, Stephen has been practicing Hong Kong immigration since 1993 and is widely acknowledged as the leading authority on business immigration matters here for the last 24 years.

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RESPONSES
  • Queen

    10 Oct 2020 pm31 4:24pm
    01

    Hi Stephen. I am a dependant visa holder and I still have 2 years before getting my residency.

    I am planning to go back to my country because of this pandemic. I am jobless so I’m deciding to go back to my country for the mean time. My question is How long can a dependant visa holder stay outside of Hong Kong? And are they going to revoke my application if I stay outside Hong Kong for a long period of time?

    Thanks!

    • The Visa Geeza

      16 Oct 2020 am31 11:49am
      02

      It’s not a simple question you ask. To protect your continuous ordinary residence for PR purposes you are expected to be resident in HK with your spouse/family as the dependent visa is granted on the basis of ‘family reunion’. On the other hand, you can maintain your dependent status indefinitely so long as you are physically present in HK on at least one occasion each 12 months. If you have not been so resident before your next renewal, then ImmD may conclude at the time you apply that you are no longer actually a resident here and so no longer need the visa.

  • JV

    5 Oct 2020 am31 11:43am
    03

    Hi I have been in Hong kong and at first came on a tourist visa then applied for my work visa in April but I waited till may to go to Macau and activate my visa next year I will be completing 7 years. Do I need to wait till may to apply or can I apply in April already?

    • The Visa Geeza

      8 Oct 2020 am31 11:17am
      04

      May.

  • Kelly

    30 Sep 2020 pm30 4:09pm
    05

    Hi Stephen!
    I have been living in Hk for 6 years now and unemployed for a year now. However my previous working visa is valid until aug 2021 which is exactly when I will reach the 7 years.

    However there are severals questions that came to my mind.
    In 2017, there is a gap of 2 weeks because my previous company was late in applying for my working visa.. does it compromise my journey to PR ? 🙁
    Also, I accumulated different types of visa which were working holidays visa/ training visa 2years/ gap of 2 weeks / and working visa until now.

    Do you think my application will be accepted by the immigration department next year?

    Thanks so much for your help!

    Kelly

    • The Visa Geeza

      8 Oct 2020 am31 11:27am
      06

      The visa types you have held will qualify you for PR but the 2 weeks gaps could be a problem, depending on the facts of your visa situation and your physical whereabouts during these gaps. You wont know until you apply I’m afraid.

  • BZT

    31 Aug 2020 pm31 7:02pm
    07

    Hi Stephen,
    I will hit 7 years of continuous work visa in HK in September 2021. I lost my job in July 2020. In the event that I find a job in France with a 1-year contract or study for 1 year in Paris, can I still apply for the PR?

    In my mind, it would be a 1-year break to then come back to HK.

    Thanks
    B

    • The Visa Geeza

      7 Sep 2020 am30 9:41am
      08

      This will definitely break your continuity of ordinary residence. You need to be living and working in HK (if you hold an employment visa here) to be able to claim ordinary residence over the full 7 years.

  • Ganesh

    30 Aug 2020 pm31 3:28pm
    09

    I complete 7 years in Aug 2020 and will apply for PR now. My child was born in Hong Kong in 2017. Can I apply for my child together? Is she eligible for PR as I will get my PR now? Thanks in advance.

    • The Visa Geeza

      31 Aug 2020 am31 9:07am
      10

      Yes.

  • Ganesh

    30 Aug 2020 pm31 3:25pm
    11

    Hi Stephen,
    I completed 7 years in Aug 2020 and my wife and child will complete in Nov 2020. Can I apply for PR together in Sep 2020? i.e. 2 months advance of my family completing their 7 year anniversary. I want to do this so it’s easier to get through this process in one go. I have seen some forums stating 1-2 months in advance is generally fine.

    • The Visa Geeza

      31 Aug 2020 am31 9:08am
      12

      No. Your family can only qualify after 7 years in their own right.

  • B

    9 Aug 2020 pm31 12:31pm
    13

    Hi!

    I came to HK on dependant visa in 2011 and from 2015 to date have been away for study but have maintained my Hong Kong bank accounts, same address and phone number, and return every 6 months, renewing my visa promptly. Am i correct in understanding that because i have been away despite maintaining documents and re-entry, i am not eligible for PR? Just want to be clear so i don’t waste an application! Thank you!

    • The Visa Geeza

      10 Aug 2020 am31 9:56am
      14

      Assuming your family home is maintained in HK throughout this time then the fact that you have been away from HK in pursuit of your education should not preclude you from qualifying for PR after 7 years continuous ordinary residence.

  • CC123

    31 Jul 2020 pm31 3:41pm
    15

    Does the ordinary residence date start when I landed in HK 7 years ago? Or when my employment visa was “activated” (we had to go to Macau to get it stamped)

    • The Visa Geeza

      3 Aug 2020 am31 10:56am
      16

      Activated.

  • Tom

    26 Jul 2020 am31 7:14am
    17

    I would like to know if there is any possibility for me to extend my dependant/spouse visa since I am now divorced from my wife who used to be my sponsor.

    Presently I have already got my last 3years dependancy visa extended before my divorced.

    Would I be able to qualify for applying permanent resident with my divorce certificate before my current dependent visa expires 2022/10/01 and on this day I will be 7 yrs that I had already continues living in Hong Kong ?

    I would like to get my PR I Hong Kong and I hope your expertise in immigration matters might be of great help to me.

    Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

    • The Visa Geeza

      27 Jul 2020 am31 10:59am
      18

      Yes this should be possible but it needs careful management at the time your 7 year anniversary is up. Ideally you would change to an employment visa in the months before your dependent visa expiry (assuming you are working) so that there is no ‘panic’ at the 7 year mark where you have a continuing residence visa after the exact 7 year anniversary. Otherwise, it is stressful and administratively problematic where your 7 year anniversary falls exactly upon your dependent visa expiry date.

  • Igor

    17 Jul 2020 am31 11:37am
    19

    Can I apply for PR after 8 years of holding valid visa?

    I will reach 7 years in 20 of Aug 2021. However, I am planning to go overseas for my further study in Sep 2021. I am afraid there is little time for the application and receiving the PR. My visa will be valid until Jul 2023, so supposedly I could still come back to Hong Kong after my study and apply for PR afterwards?

    • The Visa Geeza

      20 Jul 2020 am31 9:17am
      20

      No. This will not work. You must have 7 years of ordinary residence counting back from the date you apply for PR. If you leave HK to study before you secure PR you will fail in your PR application. Just having a visa for the 2 years doesn’t amount to ordinary residence. There is enough time in that month before you need to travel to study to complete your PR application.

  • Andy

    7 Jul 2020 am31 9:40am
    21

    Hi Stephen, your information is very helpful. Hope you can help.

    I am a HK citizen living overseas and I am going to return to both HK and China with my partner and child who are not from HK. The thing is that we will live in both HK and China but more in China because I will work there (maybe 10 or 11 months out of a year). Can they are still eligible to apply for a relevant visa in HK and wait 7 years for PR?

    • The Visa Geeza

      13 Jul 2020 am31 11:51am
      22

      No. If you are not ordinarily residing in HK but in China instead you will not qualify for PR in HK after 7 years.

  • JTC

    10 Jun 2020 pm30 4:05pm
    23

    Hi Stephen,

    My wife has been a continuous ordinary resident (Canadian Citizen with HKWP) from Sept 2011 to July 2015. She then left Hong Kong temporarily from July 2015 until August 2017 for a work placement in Shanghai with the same company. In August 2017 she returned back to HK again with the same company and has been continuous ordinary resident until present day (June 2020).

    We are explaining the gap as a company assignment and will provide proof that she had the intention to return. She had kept her HK bank accounts and credit cards active, her mobile number fully active, her personal belongings in storage in HK. We will be using the monthly statement, records, and invoices between July 2016 to August 2017 as evidence. We also got married and had a baby in Shanghai before returning to HK will mention that we moved the family back to reinforce the notion that we had the commitment and intention to return.

    Is there an assessment criterion that HK Immigration uses to consider PR cases with a gap? I want to make sure nothing is missed when justifying the gap.

    Thank you!

    • The Visa Geeza

      15 Jun 2020 pm30 12:24pm
      24

      If she held an employment visa in HK during the gap in CHN then no problem. If no EV then you’re going to struggle. Eligibility for RoA requires back to back residence visas during the 7 years claimed.

  • MAT

    1 Jun 2020 pm30 6:46pm
    25

    Hi Stephen, I have a question regarding the top-tier stream work visa.

    I have worked in Hong Kong for 4 years and am applying for a top-tier stream work visa that will have 6 year validity. (so 10 years in total on Visa) If I change my job sometime and work overseas before the end of the 7 year period for PR status, will I be able to still qualify for PR when I apply upon the 7 year mark? (say need to work in Japan from Year 5 onwards.) I still plan on keeping my residency in Hong Kong and can travel back quite frequently (given my job is mostly in Japan, Korea etc.)

    Thanks for your help in advance.

    Myakatsuki

    • The Visa Geeza

      3 Jun 2020 pm30 2:01pm
      26

      See my email.

  • Sandy

    14 May 2020 am31 1:07am
    27

    Hi Stephen, I’m a HK PR and my husband is making his application. It has past 7 yrs since we got married and he got a spouse visa – however within these 7 years we have spent 2 years overseas when I were on a secondment (my contract is called “return transfer” so my HK company is expecting me to return after the secondment). My husband has followed me to go overseas, during this period, we do not pay hk tax as we do not have hk sourced income, but we do maintain an apartment for our stay when we return. What is the chance of getting it approved?

    Thanks!

    • The Visa Geeza

      20 May 2020 am31 9:38am
      28

      So long as you show ImmD the paperwork relating to your temporary secondment overseas for those 2 years then this time away will not usually break his continuity of ordinary residence and so he should readily qualify this time.

  • RPT

    23 Apr 2020 pm30 9:05pm
    29

    Hi Visa Geeza,

    Really appreciate your time fielding questions. I sent an email to ImmD this AM but it bounced back unfortunately. I wonder if you can help…

    I am British and a HK PR (lived in HK 20 years). I and my wife (dependent visa holder, expires Feb 2021) have been married 6.5 years. She is due to apply for her PR this July. We are currently in the UK and were due to return to HK at beginning April. However, dude to the Covid-19 situation we have decided to remain here in the UK ‘sheltering-in-place’ and making sure the folks are well until it is a safer time to travel back to HK. We have an open return ticket.

    My question is; how long is my wife able to stay in the UK without it jeopardising her application for PR? I have checked up and down online and most information points to no longer than 180 consecutive days out of HK. However, I have also seen a figure of 90 days crop up. This is the reason I tried to contact ImmD, but to no avail.

    I wonder if you may be able to shed any light on this.

    • The Visa Geeza

      27 Apr 2020 pm30 1:24pm
      30

      As long as you return to HK as soon as you are practically able to the time spent away in the UK in these unusual circumstances will not negatively impact her eligibility for PR after 7 years.

  • Wendy

    6 Jul 2019 am31 12:15am
    31

    Hi Stephen,

    Thanks for your advice! I have been studying/working in HK for 6 full years but I am unemployed right now. My visa is expiring soon (one month later)… If I am unable to land a job and renew the visa before it expires, does this mean my past 6 years counting towards the 7-year anniversary will go down the drain?

    What if I get another job in two months (and get another visa) and there’s less than one month gap… Does this still count as “continuous period of not less than 7 years”?

    Thanks a lot!

    • The Visa Geeza

      9 Jul 2019 am31 10:00am
      32

      “Thanks for your advice! I have been studying/working in HK for 6 full years but I am unemployed right now. My visa is expiring soon (one month later)… If I am unable to land a job and renew the visa before it expires, does this mean my past 6 years counting towards the 7-year anniversary will go down the drain”

      For the most part yes, as you need to have had back to back residence visas all through the 7 years claimed. Slipping into visitor status invariably breaks your continuity of ordinary residence.

      “What if I get another job in two months (and get another visa) and there’s less than one month gap… Does this still count as “continuous period of not less than 7 years”?”

      I’ve seen it go both ways.

      • Wendy

        10 Jul 2019 pm31 12:28pm
        33

        Thank you Stephen!! It’s very helpful

  • Phil

    27 Jun 2019 pm30 6:27pm
    34

    Hi,

    I have been in Hong Kong for 3 years already so am almost halfway to applying for PR. I am getting married and will legally change my surname. Will it be an issue that my name changes?

    I have been told by some one that the rules regarding PR say I have be in in Hong Kong for 7 years on one name. Is this true?

    • The Visa Geeza

      2 Jul 2019 pm31 8:17pm
      35

      It makes no difference whatsoever just so long as it is you and you have spent the requisite time here.

  • T

    14 Jun 2019 pm30 5:00pm
    36

    Hi hi,

    My question about 7 years: is it 6 months being away or 180 days? The reason I’m asking is that I will be away exactly 181 days which is less than 6m. Unfortunately I will be on the other side of this planet from HK, so I can’t fly back in between just to be sure about this 6 m rule . Thanks for your response.

    • The Visa Geeza

      19 Jun 2019 am30 9:44am
      37

      6 Calendar months – but it doesn’t automatically follow that if you’re away from HK longer than 6 months at a stretch you are instantly ineligible for consideration for PR at the 7 years mark. You just need ti justify why you’ve been away that long to the extent that you have not abandoned your ordinary residence in HK by staying away as long as you have.

  • Angie

    6 Apr 2019 am30 11:56am
    38

    Hi!
    I am a univ student of overseas nationality. I am planning to work in HK after graduation, so I’m seeking for the way to get PR. I have several questions regarding PR application.

    1) Is the explanation (or excuse) for the period of absence during student status necessary?

    2) Second is, if it is needed, “gap year approved by the university” and “exchange program abroad”, would these be accounted?

    In my case, I had an year-long gap year (of course got the approval from school) and had internships in my home country. And now, I am going for exchange in the coming semester. So in total, I wouldn’t be physically present in HK for 1.5 year before my graduation. My student visa would be valid for 5.5 years, but 1.5 would be empty in the middle.

    3) So summing up 2 questions and my situation, would this 1.5 years would be counted for my PR application in the future (at the time I spend 7 years in HK)? If that’s the case, I should spend 8.5 years in HK to apply for PR right?

    ++) What I heard is that as long as the student visa is expired in the middle, there is no problem. Is this right?

    Thank you.

    • The Visa Geeza

      8 Apr 2019 pm30 5:00pm
      39

      Sorry – this isn’t a question. It’s proxy advice and way too complicated to get into via this public facing website.

  • Matrix

    2 Jan 2019 am31 11:59am
    40

    Hi Stephen,
    I have an employment visa to take me through to 7 years but now I’m unemployed for 3 months now due to redundancy in my previous compsny and still looking new job. My visa is untill July 2020 and I will turn 7 years here in hk on Nov 2019. I am planning to apply for PR ahead of time since most of the employer here is looking for PR status abd doesn’t want sponsorship. What is my chance of getting it approve?

    • The Visa Geeza

      3 Jan 2019 am31 9:28am
      41

      If you apply for PR more than 28 days before your 7 year anniversary ImmD will just send the papers back to you.

      • Peachy Agregado

        5 Apr 2019 pm30 4:39pm
        42

        When is the earliest time possible to apply for PR?

        • The Visa Geeza

          8 Apr 2019 pm30 5:01pm
          43

          28 days before the 7 year anniversary BUT you must be physically present in HK on the day you submit and also on the 7 year anniversary day.

  • Pedram

    26 Nov 2018 pm30 11:00pm
    44

    Hi Stephen!
    You have answered my question regarding PR application, but I wanna make sure. I will be out of HK for a period of 6 months as an exchange student. It means that my student visa is still valid and I ll be receiving my salary (and paying tax). In that case, 1) Do I have to stay in Hk for a period of 7 years and 6 months or is it just & years? 2) I can arrange my trip to be 5 months and 20 days; does it help to ease the process of my PR application? Does it make any difference being outside for 6 months or 5 months?

    • The Visa Geeza

      28 Nov 2018 am30 10:58am
      45

      This is getting into the land of proxy advice which I am uncomfortable giving. What do you mean by this?

      >>It means that my student visa is still valid and I ll be receiving my salary (and paying tax).>>

      Under a Hong Kong student visa employment is not permitted except for certain on-campus work or off campus work during summer holidays.

      • P

        1 Dec 2018 pm31 3:27pm
        46

        Hi Stephan!
        By that, I mean the studentship paid by university! Just like all students in HK. However, my question is if I go for an exchange program during my study (with permission of school), how long can I be far from HK to be eligible for PR application? Does it really make any difference in my future application if I stay 6 months + 1 day instead of 6 months?

        • The Visa Geeza

          3 Dec 2018 am31 10:49am
          47

          6 months and 1 day is not the issue. The key thing is that you maintain your student visa back to back at all times (NO GAPS ALLOWED) and the nature of your time away is manifestly temporary and that you return to back to HK immediately after the short time away for studies is complete.

  • Alfred

    17 Jan 2018 am31 7:31am
    48

    Hi Stephen, thank you very much for your great advice.

    I’m sorry if this follow up questions sounds a bit silly but here it goes, what happens if long absences from Hong Kong are interrupted by short periods in Hong Kong, for example, away for 5 months, back for 2 week break, and then away again for another 5 months? Do you think I still need to list (and explain) those long stints away despite the fact they don’t exceed the 6 month limit? I hold an investment visa if it is relevant.

    • The Visa Geeza

      24 Jan 2018 am31 9:00am
      49

      Yes, ImmD will certainly want to know what was happening in your life that took you away from Hong Kong all of that time to be certain that you did not abandon your continuity of ordinary or settled purpose for living in Hong Kong in all of those months away.

  • Victoria

    3 Jun 2017 am30 10:42am
    50

    Hi Stephen!

    I think my question is not big enough to warrant a separate entry on your website.
    I have a friend that works for an orchestra and is issued with 10 months’ visas, with 2 months’ breaks each year. I find it very unusual because no one else I know has ever been on visas like that (including myself), but now my friend is starting to wonder if this kind of visa will entitle her to ROB/PR? She lives in Shenzhen but travels to Hong Kong for work almost every day. She;s been doing it for the last 5 years.

    Thanks!

    • The Visa Geeza

      6 Jun 2017 am30 10:29am
      51

      On the face of it, I doubt she would be able to successfully make a claim for ordinary residence in Hong Kong given that she actually lives in Shenzhen.

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