As we have seen, in order for a long stay foreign national resident to be able to qualify for the right of abode in Hong Kong, he or she must have held a residence visa throughout all of the 7 years claimed.
However, on occasion, there may have been an interruption in back-to-back residence visas and you may have experienced time in Hong Kong in those 7 years as a visitor or, as I have couched it, in the “Twilight Zone” where your residence visa extension exercise saw you without any kind of valid period of stay endorsed in your passport while the Immigration Department were processing your extension application.
In this case, the question is begged as to whether nor not time spent in Hong Kong in these circumstances serves to break your continuity of ordinary residence, therefore precluding you from successfully claiming a continuous 7 years of living in the HKSAR.
For certain, if you stop holding a residence visa at any time during those 7 years, time is working against you to organise your life to be able to regain such a residence visa and normally any time spent temporarily as a visitor in Hong Kong whilst your immigration status is in a state of ‘Administrative Flux’ will not normally be held strictly against you by the Immigration Department in your right of abode application.
In the final analysis, however, any time spent as a visitor whilst you reorganize your affairs so that you can speedily reacquire a residence visa will not break your continuity of ordinary residence.
However, if this time in residence visa “limbo” lasts for more than a few weeks or drags on to be several months, this could turn into a Sword of Damocles type situation for you so you need to anticipate that time is not on your side – so best not dilly dally between residence visas.
The Hong Kong Immigration Department will look at all the circumstances of your life in Hong Kong whilst you’re in this state of visitor visa “limbo” to determine your intentions regarding your settlement here, notwithstanding involuntary challenges to your ability to qualify for a residence visa at a time of Administrative Flux.
And, so, whilst not hard and fast, it’s fair to say that, any time longer than 3 or 4 months holding a visitor visa ‘between jobs’ or where you are completing your plans to start a business, or even waiting for a decision on a subsequent QMAS or Capital Investment Entrant Scheme application from the Immigration Department itself (where there is no formal guarantee of application approval) such time as a visitor could serve to break your ordinary residence, especially if you have spent a lot of that time physically outside of Hong Kong.