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Eligibility Criteria for the Hong Kong Working Holiday Visa Scheme

April 9th, 2019

Posted by / in Musing, Special Programmes / 86 responses



The Hong Kong working holiday visa programme first came into play in April 2001 and is meant to aid cultural and education exchanges between HK and those nations who take part on a bi-lateral basis.

Participants in the Hong Kong Working Holiday Scheme are not permitted to engage in permanent employment and should not work for the same employer for more than six months (for participants from the Republic of Korea) or three months (for participants from Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Japan and New Zealand) during their visit in the HKSAR.

Participants from Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea and New Zealand may also enrol in study or training course(s) during their time under the programme.

The Scheme permits younger people (between 18 and 30) to make an application for a Working Holiday Visa for Hong Kong which enables them to remain in the HKSAR for a maximum vacation period of one year. During their stay, the Working Holiday Visa holder can take up short term work for a period of less than 3 months with any one employer and can study for a fixed duration.

The tradition of the Scheme works to permit a lengthened vacation type experience of working, living and also, the chance of studying in HK for an unqualified maximum period of one year but the Scheme shouldn’t be viewed as an alternative choice to a work visa.

Extensions outside the twelve months aren’t available and an applicant may only receive one Working Holiday Visa during the life of the Scheme.

The overall objective of the Scheme is to offer a valuable opportunity for younger people to broaden their horizons and the programme is subject to a maximum quota of visas to be issued each year.

Countries that have bilateral Working Holiday Scheme agreement with the HKSAR (as at 1 January 2019)

  • Australia (annual quota = 5000)
  • Austria (annual quota = 100)
  • Canada (annual quota = 200)
  • France (annual quota = 750)
  • Germany (annual quota = 300)
  • Hungary (annual quota = 200)
  • Ireland (annual quota = 200)
  • Japan (annual quota = 1500)
  • Korea (Republic of) (annual quota = 1000)
  • Netherlands (annual quota = 100)
  • New Zealand (annual quota = 400)
  • Sweden (annual quota = 500)
  • United Kingdom (annual quota = 1000)

Temporary employment

  • Australian citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than three months
  • Austrian citizens – not allowed to work for more than six months
  • British citizens – not allowed to work for more than 12 months
  • Canadian citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than three months
  • Dutch citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than six months
  • French citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than six months
  • German citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than three months
  • Hungarian citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than six months
  • Irish citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than three months
  • Japanese citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than six months
  • Korean citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than six months
  • New Zealand citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than three months
  • Swedish citizens – not allowed to work for the same employer for more than six months

Applications are selected on a first-come-first-served basis. Processing of applications takes about 3 weeks.

Conditions for successful application include:

* You must hold a valid national passport issued by the participating country and be ordinarily residing in that participating country.

* Your primary intention is to holiday in Hong Kong.

* You must be aged between 18 and 30.

* You must be able to show financial proof of having enough funds to maintain yourself during the stay in Hong Kong. (e.g. bank statement, saving accounts passbooks, and the like).

* You must have a return air ticket or financial proof of having sufficient funds to purchase one home.

* You must hold medical and comprehensive hospitalisation and liability insurance to cover your time in the HKSAR – certain nationalities: see here.

* The process is by way of direct application in Hong Kong via a local representative or direct to the HKID via mail.

* Applications can also be submitted via the network of Chinese diplomatic and consular missions in the participating countries.

More Stuff You May Find Useful or Interesting

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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.

  • Monica H.

    28 Jun 2023 pm30 6:17pm

    Hi Visa Geeza,

    I have two questions:
    1. My WHV to HK was approved (yay!) And the message they sent me states “Given that the validity period of the visa does not normally exceed 3 months, you are advised to collect the visa only after the scheduled period of the applicant’s traveling…”
    Does this mean I can wait for however long I need to before ‘collecting’my visa and that only then the 3-month validity period would begin?

    2. I’m a Canadian citizen, so do I have any multiple-entry allowance into HK throughout the year that im using my WHV?

    • The Visa Geeza

      30 Jun 2023 am30 10:58am

      1 – It means you have 3 months to activate the visa after you collect it. So don’t collect it now and plan to fly in 4 months.
      2 – Yes.

  • The Visa Geeza

    4 Feb 2023 am28 8:11am

    Yes but most folks don’t earn enough to have to pay any salaries tax. We always advise to file a Return in any event but generally there doesn’t seem to be a tax charge arising.

  • Clara

    17 Sep 2021 am30 9:42am

    Hello! I am currently in the process of applying for a WH visa. I have insurance coverage until June 2022 and that is when I intend to leave HK. So I would be staying only 7 months in HK. However, the visa lets me stay one year. When applying, is holding insurance until June 2022 enough if I show my intended return flight? Because I don’t want to purchase more insurance that I don’t need.

    Thank you.

    • The Visa Geeza

      6 Oct 2021 pm31 12:42pm

      ImmD want to see 12 months insurance coverage because if you change your mind and stay for a full 12 months they wont know this…

  • JS

    13 Sep 2021 pm30 3:25pm

    Just submitted my working holiday visa application to HK ImmD. Wondering how long is the current processing time? On the ImmD website it said 2 weeks, but under the current pandemic situation, will the actual processing time be longer? (for instance, ImmD reduced the number of their staff members to process visa applications?)
    Also wondering, once the visa is issued, can I arrange a courier (e.g. DHL) to pick up the visa from the ImmD and post it to me? (I will pay for the courier, as I do not have friends in HK, and want to receive my visa sooner so do not want it to be posted by air mail)

    • The Visa Geeza

      6 Oct 2021 pm31 12:52pm

      1 – 2-4 weeks is the norm
      2 – yes you can – but they must be specifically person-authorized and I’m not certain a professional courier company can accommodate that. Contact my office if you need help.

  • Emily G

    10 Aug 2021 am31 6:01am

    Is the WHV a one-time entry thing, or could you leave to come home (to the UK) once during the 12 months? Thanks again for the amazing resource!

    Right now I know it’s not possible to enter HK on a WHV from the UK due to the renewed highest risk country status. Sigh…

    • The Visa Geeza

      18 Aug 2021 pm31 3:56pm

      WHVs are multiple entry once activated. As a Group A country a WHV holder travelling from the UK is deemed a resident and you can arrive to enter HK – you just have to do 21 days hotel quarantine as long as you’re vaxxed.

  • Joyce

    21 Jun 2021 pm30 5:33pm

    Hi VisaGeeza,

    Thank you for the informative post! My boyfriend (a fresh graduate and currently in Australia) is looking to apply for a WHV in Hong Kong.

    Can he apply for a job or a full-time study before the end of his WHV stay? And assuming that he does get hired for a full-time role, is it possible for him to then change his WHV into a work visa?

    Thank you!

    • The Visa Geeza

      21 Jun 2021 pm30 6:30pm

      He can apply to change from WHV to EV but the requirements to qualify for an employment visa require at least 2 years post graduation working experience in a managerial or supervisory capacity thus I expect he will struggle to get approved if he’s a fresh graduate.

      • Joyce

        26 Jun 2021 pm30 10:06pm

        Thank you for the reply! If that’s the case, I presume it’d be better for him to apply for post-grad in a HK uni when he comes over on a WHV so he could gain an IANG visa after graduation?

        Would he be allowed to apply while he’s on WHV? If he’s been accepted, does he have to start school after the WHV expires or can he change it to a student visa?

        Thank you in advance for your advice!

        • The Visa Geeza

          7 Jul 2021 pm31 2:42pm

          There are limits on study under a working holiday visa so he can’t use that to pursue a post grad degree full time. He needs a student visa to study full time and to subsequently qualify under IANG.

  • Amanda

    18 May 2021 pm31 2:19pm


    I have gathered my documents and am sending them this week directly to HK from Australia. I spoke over the phone with immigration but I’m still confused. They said I don’t need to notarize documents and only need to send in a copy of my passport then when the visa is issued I can have a friend send it back to me. Do I just stick the visa into my passport? Is it that easy? I’ve just never applied for a visa before without someone actually sighting and taking my passport away so it seems odd.

    I’m also wondering how difficult it is to change from a Working Holiday visa to another visa if I decide to stay after 12 months. For example, if my partner is on a working permit and I want to change to a dependent visa. Would I need to leave the country first?

    Thanks for your help, this site has been an amazing resource 🙂

    • The Visa Geeza

      28 May 2021 am31 10:10am

      ImmD do not need ‘qualified’ documents to progress a working holiday visa application. Copies are fine. They issue a visa label against the copies and the application form and then inspect your passport at the time you seek to enter HK. Someone can collect your visa label from ImmD in HK and send it to you.

      “if my partner is on a working permit” Do you mean your legal spouse? You cannot secure a dependant visa is you are unmarried. With covid19 in play presently sometimes ImmD will enable onshore activation, sometimes not. I suspect 12 months hence any change of visa category will likely be activated by a trip to Macau but hey, who knows at this time?

  • J

    16 May 2021 pm31 4:10pm

    I am a UK citizen with a WHV. Is it possible to travel to HK at this present time? The UK is currently in group A2, and by the looks of it, only HK residents can travel from this group. Does a WHV mean you get treated like a HK resident?

    • The Visa Geeza

      18 May 2021 am31 10:52am

      Yes but you need to quarantine.

  • Al

    7 May 2021 pm31 5:12pm

    Hi, I do have a working holiday visa and was about to fly to hong kong, however, the British ban was put in place back in December.
    I see the British ban is about to be lifted but I am not sure if only HK residents are allowed back in from the UK.
    As a holder of the working holiday visa, am I able to fly to HK from the UK? Or does it not count anymore? Thanks.

    • The Visa Geeza

      14 May 2021 pm31 12:17pm

      Yes you can.

      • Dodo

        16 May 2021 pm31 5:29pm

        Hi, Visa Geeza
        I have sent out all the documents by mail on Friday for WHV from UK.
        However, it seems like only HongKong Residents are allowed to enter HongKong based on the below website.

        could I pls double confirm if it’s possible to enter hk for British at the moment?

        • The Visa Geeza

          18 May 2021 am31 10:52am

          Yes you can.

  • Krystle

    30 Nov 2020 am30 10:29am

    Hi VisaGeeza, Just had a couple of questions about WHV during covid. Are they still letting people enter on them during this time? If yes, after a successful application, what do they generally ask to see when entering into HK? Will they request all insurance info, more up to date bank statements, or the like?

    Look forward to hearing from you, keep up the very informative work!

    Thank you

    • The Visa Geeza

      2 Dec 2020 am31 10:18am

      Yes ImmD are issuing WHVs. Upon arrival there is no inspection of anything but your passport with the visa label in it.

  • Max

    19 Nov 2020 pm30 1:19pm

    Hi, just have several quick questions about applying for a working holiday visa. I am currently holding Canadian citizenship.

    1) How long will the application take?
    2) I realized that there is a quota for the application, so I wonder if it is likely for me to receive the visa for me to apply right now.
    3) I know that I can not work for the sample employer for up to 3 months during the working holiday visa. Is it only for a paid job? Can I take the internship for a company for more than 3 months if it is not paid?

    Thanks very much

    • The Visa Geeza

      20 Nov 2020 pm30 7:10pm

      1 = 2-3 weeks
      2 = it’s rolling so you may very get lucky but keep trying if not
      3 = you can uptake any work of any kind paid or unpaid

  • S

    23 Jun 2020 pm30 3:10pm

    Hi, I’m already in HK on a tourist visa and I want to apply for the Holiday working Visa, is this possible as I’m already here and is there current exemptions on needing to leave due to COVID 19?
    Many thanks for your help

    • The Visa Geeza

      26 Jun 2020 am30 11:53am

      Unofficially yes you can. However, activating it might be a problem as you’re expected to enter HK on the WHV in order to activate it. You can try to get special dispensation to activate onshore at ImmD tower but it’s discretionary on the part of ImmD.

      • SP

        29 Jun 2020 pm30 1:21pm

        Thank you so much for your help! I’ll give it a go!

  • Annie

    4 Jun 2020 pm30 11:11pm

    I am applying for a holiday working visa. They asked for more documentation a week ago, which I sent on the same day. How much longer can I expect to wait?

    Also – do I come under the current entry exemptions due to COVID-19 as I will have be holding a new visa to work or study in HK?


    • The Visa Geeza

      15 Jun 2020 pm30 12:22pm

      Its a 4 weeks process typically. A WHV is a entry visa and you can travel to HK on it once issued to you. Under present arrangements though you will be quarantined for 14 days upon arrival.

    • James

      25 Sep 2020 am30 11:42am

      How much longer did you have to wait Annie?

    • A

      3 Nov 2020 am30 1:40am

      Hi Anne, I’m in the same position you was, trying to get into HK under a working holiday visa.

      Did you make it in the end? Does the working holiday visa actually allow access?

      • The Visa Geeza

        7 Nov 2020 am30 11:39am

        Yes it does.

  • Faye

    11 Sep 2019 am30 1:17am

    I have got a working visa through new employment, but my boyfriend wants to come with me on a WHV from the UK. How easy will it be for him to get a visa once he starts working for a company on his WHV? Please and thank you 🙂

    • The Visa Geeza

      11 Sep 2019 am30 10:52am

      Assuming he qualifies and there’s still quota it’s a simple process.

  • Ben

    30 Aug 2019 pm31 7:25pm

    Can I ask for clarification on methods of paying the WHV fee: if submitting directly to the Hong Kong Immigration Dept does it need to be a cashier order / bank draft?

    And if I wanted to post it to a Chinese embassy (London), would it still need to be a cashier order/ bank draft, or a personal cheque? The official guidance leaflet (Part V- Fees) just says ‘paid direct’.
    It doesn’t seem to be very common practice for UK banks to be able to write a bank draft in foreign currency (at least where I have asked anyway).

    • Ben

      30 Aug 2019 pm31 8:52pm

      Could another alternative be to send the application to a friend living in Hong Kong, and for them to pay the visa fee in cash at the HKID?

      • The Visa Geeza

        4 Sep 2019 pm30 3:20pm

        Yes. Make sure you appoint them as your authorised representative by writing a letter to this end.

  • jeromy

    19 Aug 2019 pm31 1:17pm

    If I get a WHV for 12 months (as British) can I:

    – Claim I am resident in Hong Kong for tax purposes
    – Get a Hong Kong ID so I can open bank accounts, develop my own business etc.

    • The Visa Geeza

      19 Aug 2019 pm31 2:43pm

      (1) depends on your national tax agency but I doubt it. The visa is for 12 months non permanent employment
      (2) yes ID card and access to bank accounts but this visa is no designed for you to start up a business under

      • jeromy

        21 Aug 2019 pm31 4:09pm

        Thank you for your quick reply. I’m halfway through my application and as I am already in Hong Kong and will not be going home before I apply (though I will be leaving Hong Kong), it seems I can only pay using a bank draft or cashier order – I’d need to fly home and go to my bank at home (HSBC) to do that personally. Is there a way to pay online or to have a friend pay in Hong Kong on my behalf?

        • The Visa Geeza

          29 Aug 2019 pm31 2:02pm

          Authorize a friend in HK to collect for you and pay in cash.

  • Irene

    20 Jul 2019 am31 8:27am

    My friend having Russian passport did he want to come Hong Kong for working holiday can he apply ?

    • The Visa Geeza

      2 Aug 2019 am31 10:17am

      He can’t. Russian national don’t qualify for working holiday visas at the moment.

  • Daniel

    24 Jun 2019 am30 9:27am

    When I went to get another HKiD because I lost it, I was told during when I was taking my photo and even when I went to collect my new ID from two different officials, just before my working holiday visa expires, to go back to immigration office to extend, is this possible? As I cannot find any evidence on the official website

    • The Visa Geeza

      26 Jun 2019 pm30 2:49pm

      Working holidays visas are generally not extendable.

  • Jonathan Cua Valdez

    22 Mar 2019 pm31 12:49pm

    My friend is Samoan and worked in HK as professional for 1.5 years but He finished his contract last March 17, 2019. Can He apply a holiday working visa Or working visa for him self since he wants to stay? Any advise or help would much be appreciated.

    • The Visa Geeza

      23 Mar 2019 am31 11:37am

      Samoan (Western or US) nationals do not qualify for a working holiday visa. he cannot extend an employment visa without having an employer.

  • Jack

    17 Mar 2019 pm31 9:01pm

    When submitting the visa application do you need to submit your passport or will a copy be sufficient?

    • The Visa Geeza

      19 Mar 2019 am31 11:41am

      Copy is sufficient.

  • Bella

    12 Feb 2019 am28 6:54am

    Hi, How do you pay for the holiday working visa? and where do you post it to? Do you post it to the Embassy in Australia?

    • The Visa Geeza

      12 Feb 2019 am28 9:55am

      Send it directly to ImmD Tower in Wanchai.

  • Georgia

    11 Feb 2019 pm28 10:38pm

    I am applying for a Holiday Working Visa from the UK. Do you know how I can prove * You must hold medical and comprehensive hospitalisation and liability insurance to cover your time in the HKSAR? Has anyone used a company before?


    • The Visa Geeza

      12 Feb 2019 am28 9:55am

      Yes – you buy a policy and include that in your application bundle.

  • A Cousins

    15 Jan 2019 pm31 3:56pm

    I am from the UK (currently residing in Australia) and have recently applied for a Working Holiday Visa – I meet all the criteria and have sent the relevant documents etc.
    I’ve seen contradicting information regarding ‘processing times’, and also whether a notification/ acknowledgement of application being received is sent to the applicant – I would love to track the progress of my application.
    Is this something you’re able to shed some light on?
    Thanks in advance.

    • The Visa Geeza

      16 Jan 2019 am31 10:46am

      It will take c 3-4 weeks, sometimes a bit less time.

      Track your application? :

      • A C

        16 Jan 2019 pm31 7:21pm

        Thank you for your prompt response.
        I sent my application by post, and have received tracking confirmation that it was delivered over 1 week ago; however, I have not received an email or letter notification telling me that my application has been received or is currently being processed.
        Do you think this is something to worry about?
        Thanks in advance.

        • The Visa Geeza

          17 Jan 2019 am31 10:13am

          No. You might even get the approval letter before you receive the receipt.

          • Adam C

            17 Jan 2019 pm31 3:46pm

            Ok, great. Thank you!

  • Rachel

    20 Nov 2018 pm30 9:32pm

    Do I need to contain a outbound ticket (germany to Hong Kong) before applying?

    Is it an option at all to travel to hong kong (visa free) first and apply when I am in the city and stay for 1 year?

    • The Visa Geeza

      26 Nov 2018 am30 9:32am

      Best to apply for your WHV before you travel to HK.

  • Kato

    23 Mar 2018 pm31 1:43pm

    What qualifies as “proof of acceptance to hold” medical insurance when applying for this visa? Will a written letter promising to hold insurance during the visa period do? Obviously I do not want to buy the insurance until I know the visa is approved.


    • The Visa Geeza

      23 Mar 2018 pm31 2:03pm

      You need something more concrete – like a formal quote. However ImmD may or may not accept this. Suggest you buy a policy which you can settle in 12 monthly installments.

    • Lea

      15 Sep 2020 pm30 10:35pm

      Hi, I am curious, did the quote end up working out?

  • Janice

    3 Mar 2018 am31 8:12am

    Can you get a second working holiday visa?

    • The Visa Geeza

      6 Mar 2018 pm31 1:53pm

      Nope! One time only.

  • Yasmin Fletcher

    4 Jul 2017 am31 9:26am

    I know it says “Applications are selected on a first-come-first-served basis.”
    But is there any way of knowing when this starts for each year? Have I got more of a chance applying at the start of the year because thats when the doors open for the 1000people (UK) quota, or midway, later in the year?
    Any more info greatly appreciated

    • The Visa Geeza

      6 Jul 2017 am31 10:11am

      No – you just have to apply and see if there’s quota available at the time of the application submission

  • Billy

    31 Aug 2016 am31 11:51am

    if WHV candidate is limited to maximum 3 months per employer in Hong Kong, is it possible to work longer if different company name but same group? Heard there are Groups with many companies within (probably with same directors or owners), can the candidate work in the Group for over 3 months after changing employer company name?

    • The Visa Geeza

      4 Sep 2016 pm30 12:43pm

      You must work for separate legal entities. If they are owned by the same party that’s fine so long as the job is different each time.

  • Eimear

    2 Dec 2015 pm31 3:17pm

    Hi, I am in Hong Kong at the minute and want to apply for the WH visa but I’m not sure if applying in person is allowed or if you have to be in your country of residence when you apply?

    • The Visa Geeza

      4 Dec 2015 pm31 12:55pm

      Technically you should be in your country of residence when you apply however plenty of people are in HK when they apply and it doesn’t appear to be a preclusion if you are in Hong Kong on the date you submit your WHV application to ImmD.

  • Jonny Blair

    4 Aug 2015 am31 11:32am

    Good article and glad you referenced the use of my photo with a link to my site.
    Jonny Blair recently posted..Staying at the Dorsett Mong Kok Hotel, Kowloon, Hong KongMy Profile

    • The Visa Geeza

      4 Aug 2015 pm31 12:03pm

      Thanks Jonny. You’ll be sad to hear than Delaney’s in Wanchai is shutting down soon… sigh… there goes my favourite lunch place!

      • Tony Ryan

        17 Oct 2018 pm31 7:11pm

        TST Delaney’s is still going strong.

        Your article doesn’t mention UK. Does that mean uk citizens can’t get a working holiday visa?

        • The Visa Geeza

          20 Oct 2018 am31 11:24am

          Yes UK Nationals can get a WHV. Countries that have bilateral Working Holiday Scheme agreement with the HKSAR (as at 1 January 2018)

          Australia (annual quota = 5000)
          Austria (annual quota = 100)
          Canada (annual quota = 200)
          France (annual quota = 750)
          Germany (annual quota = 300)
          Hungary (annual quota = 200)
          Ireland (annual quota = 200)
          Japan (annual quota = 1500)
          Korea (Republic of) (annual quota = 1000)
          Netherlands (annual quota = 100) (the scheme is scheduled to come into effect on 1 January 2019)
          New Zealand (annual quota = 400)
          Sweden (annual quota = 500)
          United Kingdom (annual quota = 1000)


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