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How Can Hong Kong Technology Startups Improve Their Chances of Winning Investment Visa Approvals for Their Founders?

March 7th, 2014

Posted by / in 60 Second Snapshot, Employment Visas, Investment Visas / 1 response


So you’re now committed to getting your Startup off the ground here in Hong Kong…

When it comes to getting investment visa approvals, the problem with most technology startups is that most of them are boot strapped, most of them are run according to the Lean philosophy – and most of them fail within the first 2 years of their lives.

And the Immigration Department know this.

Consequently foreign national founders of technology startups in Hong Kong need to temper their early entrepreneurial seizure and consider whether their plans for Hong Kong are actually feasible from an immigration perspective.

The immigration test to pass is to show you can make a substantial contribution to the economy of Hong Kong or, as I am fond of saying. how long is a piece of string?

For sure, running Lean is smart and the only sensible way to carry out the pre-revenue activities of your enterprise – and the Immigration Department will not unduly penalize you for this.

But boot strapping will doom your application to failure. This is Hong Kong after all, and money talks in this town.

So when you do decide to take your business investment visa application to the Immigration Department you need to make sure that you have sufficient funding to be able to fast track your implementation plan; you need financing to be able to generate local jobs quicker than you might otherwise have planned for; you need to move past your hip kitchen table business accommodation arrangements.

In essence, you need a ‘visa factor’ in your fund raising document, setting out to prospective investors that your proposed Use of Funds includes an increased sum of available cash to be able to meet the requirements of the Hong Kong Immigration Department in granting your visa.

You may not actually end up spending it all and it could be returned to investors in the case that you do eventually shut up shop – but ImmD need to be satisfied you’ve got the money to succeed – right from the get go.

Plans for future fund raises will not cut the mustard.

Remember, without the permission of the Director of Immigration your venture is essentially an illegal one – so raising the right sum of money will serve to protect your investors and the only sensible thing to do if you wish to live, work and prosper here with the Immigration Department’s blessing.

More Stuff You May Find Useful or Interesting

Why do Hong Kong technology startups mostly struggle to win investment visa approvals for their founders?

Relocating to Hong Kong  for work or business – The Business Investment Visa

How do brand new businesses establish their financial bona fides to be deemed a suitable and credible sponsor for a Hong Kong employment visa?

What will the Immigration Department make of a third party objection to an application for a Hong Kong investment visa?

Can you undertake freelance work or start your own business if you hold a Hong Kong working holiday visa?


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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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