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Hadley Says

How to Get a Hong Kong Working Visa Automatically – With No Questions Asked!

December 11th, 2012

Posted by / in Employment Visas, Hadley Says… / 26 responses


Until only just a few short years ago, it was nigh on impossible for foreign nationals studying for an undergraduate or post graduate degree at a university in Hong Kong to secure an employment visa upon their graduation.

However, since the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local Graduates came into effect in 2008, any student visa holder successfully graduating from their course, can now essentially walk straight into an employment visa without even needing a sponsor or an offer of an employment.

This prevails if you make the application to the Hong Kong ID within 6 months of graduation, as they deem these applicants ‘fresh graduates’ and the conversion from student to employment visa is almost akin to a rubber stamping exercise.

However, 12 months later once the first employment visa comes up for extension, the holder of such an employment visa needs to have a confirmed employment to be able to remain in Hong Kong under that status.

The situation is different for ex students who graduated more than 6 months ago, as they are called returning graduates.

The visa conditions for such returning graduates are more onerous than they are for fresh graduates but their applications are ‘favourably considered’ so long as they have a suitable job offer paying market rates from a suitable sponsor.

But for fresh graduates, the employment visa is a shoe in and many foreign nationals choose specifically to study in Hong Kong first simply to get direct access to permissions to work – and strategically the Immigration Arrangements for Non-local graduates has provided a fantastic additional pathway to getting approval to work in the HKSAR.

More Stuff to Help You Along

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How to stop worrying about your Hong Kong visa application and start applying

How to cure your Hong Kong visa extension headache and make sure it gets approved the very first time

Why and how Hong Kong seeks to attract foreign national talent

The impact of brain drain on Hong Kong and resulting immigration policy development


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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.

  • Yue

    1 Apr 2023 pm30 9:28pm

    Hi I graduated with a JD degree in 2022. I will graduate with a PCLL degree in 2023. Can I apply for non-recent IANG using my JD degree while I’m on the PCLL student visa? Thank you!

    • The Visa Geeza

      3 Apr 2023 am30 10:38am

      Assuming your JD is from a HK university yes.

  • Nori767

    17 Jan 2022 pm31 7:58pm


    I have a student visa in HK and will only graduate at the end of the year 2022. however, I received an offer for a job in HK and now the company is asking that they switch me to a work visa. is that allowed? can I switch my student visa halfway through?

    • The Visa Geeza

      25 Jan 2022 am31 9:39am

      You can apply. Whether you get approved or not is a separate question.

  • Ben

    10 Nov 2020 am30 11:11am

    I started working in Hong Kong in Oct 2014 on a working visa.
    On Aug 2018 I stopped working and immediately switch to a student visa to study mandarin.
    On Dec 2019 I started a new job, stopped my mandarin classes and went back to working visa.
    Will I be eligible for a right to abode on Oct 2021 ?
    I stayed continuously in HK from Oct 2014 till now, just basically switched from a working visa, to student visa and back to working visa.
    Thank you

    • The Visa Geeza

      19 Nov 2020 pm30 12:16pm

      As long as there’s been no gaps in your residence visas over the 7 years then yes you should be eligible for PR

  • Raul

    30 Jun 2018 pm30 4:00pm

    Hi! I graduated from HKUST from a PG course in late 2013 and got my IANG. I worked in an HK company until October 2016 and left my job to move to the USA for my MBA. Meanwhile, my work visa got expired in April 2017. Now, I want to take up an internship or a job in HK but I do not have a sponsor. Could I walk straight to HK Immigration department requesting them for a short time work Visa so that I can look for a job in HK? Is there any other way I can revive my VISA? I am an Indian national.
    Many thanks for your help.

    • The Visa Geeza

      3 Jul 2018 pm31 12:37pm

      As a returning graduate under IANG you need an employer offering you a full time Professional role aligned with your education and background and the compensation must be broadly commensurate with market rates paid to similar professionals in Hong Kong. IANG returning graduates are offered the concession of not needing to compete with a local person to do the work in question but you still need a FT employment offer.


    19 Jul 2017 pm31 2:51pm

    Hello i’m from Nepal & Nepalese citizen. I have passed my bachelor degree(Bachelor of Business Degree) & Master degree running (Master of Business Studies) . I want to know how can I, if I can,apply to Hong Kong for a Student or Working Visa . What are the options and chances of doing this?

  • Adam N

    4 Aug 2016 pm31 3:15pm

    Hello! I am a US citizen and 2015 graduate of SCAD Hong Kong (Savannah College of Art and Design). It is a non-local locally accredited university in Sham Shui Po. I am currently finishing up a 12-month training visa with my employer, and now they want to transition me to a working visa. I read your article about the difficulty of switching from a training visa to work visa – so now I am wondering if I may be eligible for this IANG visa, as it seems like it might be simpler (?).

    Do you know how it works for graduates from schools like SCAD in HK?

    Thank you for your help!

    • The Visa Geeza

      7 Aug 2016 pm31 1:43pm

      As SCAN is not accredited for IANG I’m afraid you wont be able to qualify for this visa type.

  • TYH

    17 Mar 2016 am31 10:26am

    If I already have a job in HK and an approved work permit, but I am switching jobs, will the new application process for a work permit with my next employer be any easier/ faster, or it’s essentially the same as starting from scratch?


    • The Visa Geeza

      18 Mar 2016 pm31 8:43pm

      Essentially the same as starting from scratch although if the new position is like for like the old one and the sponsor is a well established business, ImmD are minded to ‘favourably consider’ such applications assuming the compensation is broadly commensurate with market rates and the job cannot reasonably be expected to be uptake by a local person all things considered.

  • Puneet Khanna

    19 Dec 2012 pm31 1:21pm

    I am an Indian National and I am running a business in India. I want to know how can I, if I can, shift to Hong Kong for a business or a good job along with my family. What are the options and chances of doing this?


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