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Do You Need To Leave Hong Kong To ‘Activate’ A Hong Kong Employment Visa Extension?

May 14th, 2021

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Family Visas, Investment Visas, Sherpa, VG Front Page, Your Question Answered / 8 responses


Do you need to leave Hong Kong to activate a Hong Kong employment visa extension of stay together with an accompanying dependant visa? Has Covid19 made any difference to the way the Hong Kong Immigration Department extend such status for currently resident foreign nationals?


Hi Visa Geeza.

I’m asking a question that has already been answered however …

Do we need to leave Hong Kong and re enter in order to activate a visa extension?

My partner is renewing her current visa with a current employer. So it’s an extension without a change of employer.

However, her employer is of the view that she has to exit and re enter and is saying that HR is saying the same thing.

But right now, we’re in COVID, lockdown, etc and believe its not actually necessary.

We have previously referred her employer and the HR team to the question previously answered in your podcast where you state that because it’s simply an extension you have already entered, your visa is active and you’re just extending it and that’s what I believe as well.

However, could you maybe give us a more defined concrete answer so that we can definitively address this and avoid the need for the significant disruption an exit and re-entry would cause

So to restate:

Do we have to exit and re-enter Hong Kong in order to activate a work visa extension?



COVID-19 has not in any way changed the way that the Immigration Department process routine extensions of stay for employment visas with accompanying dependent these extensions thrown in.

The protocol is exactly the same as it’s always been that is that you make an application for your extension four weeks before (or within four weeks before) the expiry of your current limits of stay.

Immigration Department will then take a few days to process everything and give you a return date upon which you will go back to the Immigration Department collect your passports with the new extensions endorsed in your passports and your new extension of stay becoming active from the date that they are endorsed in your passport accordingly.

So there is no requirement to exit and re enter Hong Kong because you’re not actually activating a new visa, you are extending an existing visa.

So there is as I say no requirement to exit and re enter Hong Kong in order to complete that procedure.

I also checked with my team and in the last 60 days we have completed these procedures in this fashion some 38 times.

Hope you found that helpful.

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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.

  • EG

    9 Mar 2022 am31 9:31am

    Hi there Stephen, is it still the case that I have to ask for special permission to activate a new working visa (from a new employer) when previously I was on a working holiday? With all thanks.

    • The Visa Geeza

      13 Mar 2022 am31 11:07am


  • Chopasky

    27 May 2021 pm31 8:34pm

    How about when changing employer and getting a new visa? Do I need to exit the country, come back and do the quarantine? Or is there any possible exemption due to the pandemic? Thanks a lot in advance!

    • The Visa Geeza

      28 May 2021 am31 9:56am

      If it’s a change of sponsorship submitted before your current employment visa expires then no need to leave HK to activate.

  • M

    15 May 2021 pm31 3:14pm

    Hi there,

    To extend a visa, you don’t need to leave but what about the situation where you were previously on a dependant visa and then granted an employment visa, but technically need to leave Hong Kong to activate the new employment visa?

    On the letter received, it stated that the new visa will be activated on re-entry. Is it possible to write to the Immigration Department and ask them to waive the requirement to leave Hong Kong due to the effects of the pandemic/arduous process of quarantining?

    Thanks very much!

    • The Visa Geeza

      18 May 2021 am31 10:53am

      I have answered this privately.

      • Louise

        29 Aug 2021 am31 10:07am

        Hello! I am wondering the same question. I have had a working holiday visa and now trying to change to company sponsorship.

        Once the visa comes through, do I need to leave HK? I can’t afford quarantine.

        Thank you in advance.

        • The Visa Geeza

          31 Aug 2021 pm31 1:34pm

          You’ll have to ask ImmD for special permission to activate onshore. Do this after your new visa is aprpoved.


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