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Immigration Department Service Disruptions Until (Further Notice)

February 8th, 2022

Posted by / in Musing / 57 responses


Immigration Department Service Disruptions

Immigration Department Service Disruptions (For At Least Until February 11, 2022)



Due to the latest situation of coronavirus, the Immigration Department is offering a limited service currently. Please see the arrangement below for your reference. ImmD will announce their updated service arrangement next week.

We will update you again when there is anything new.

Please note, none of this will negatively impact on your current and future status nor be deemed negative in terms of chances of visa approval.

  1. 5/F Extension: Visa applications can be submitted by getting tags if the visa is going to expire in less than 1 month; Visitor visa extension applications can only be submitted if the visa is going to expire within 7 days. Other applications (change of category / sponsorship) can only be submitted in Drop-in Box. For us, business as usual until further notice.
  2. 6/F Extension: Opened. Visa extension applications can be submitted only if the visa is going to expire in less than 1 month. Other applications can only be submitted in Drop-in Box. For us, business as usual.
  3. 7/F Other Visas and Permits: Open. Applications can be submitted as usual. No visa collection can be completed. For us, business as usual.
  4. 8/F HKID: Urgent replacement of identity cards service only. For us, business as usual.
  5. 24/F Employment and Visit Visas: Open. We can only submit your applications through a drop-in box. Visa collection can be completed as usual. For us, business as usual.
  6. 25/F Right of Abode: Closed. Only provide urgent services (eg. Prior appointment). Applications can only be submitted in Drop-in Box. Business as usual for us.


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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.

  • jan

    10 May 2022 pm31 3:32pm


    I applied via hk registered post for th extension of my family dependent visa in march, but still no reply from immigration..

    is it normal, is the delay bcz of covid.


    • The Visa Geeza

      1 Jun 2022 pm30 2:31pm

      The timeline is about right at the moment.

  • SM

    8 Jan 2021 pm31 8:41pm

    I applied for my husband’s dependent visa in April 2020, until now its still in progress. They collected ever required document from me in September 2020. I even called the office but the officer told me I have to wait as it will take a long time. Is anyone else facing the same thing? Anyone has any idea how much longer it will take? They didn’t even ask me for any other document after receiving every document they asked whats taking them soooo long?don’t they know how hard it is for a couple to live apart for so long?

    • The Visa Geeza

      11 Jan 2021 pm31 2:34pm

      It could be a combination of covid related delays or ImmD not being satisfied with the genuine nature of the marriage and may be conducting detailed background checks.

  • Billy

    31 Dec 2020 am31 8:11am

    Hi, any recent examples of new employment (GEP) visa issued for someone applying from outside HK? Submitted mid Oct and it is in final stages of approval (with senior officer) for 3 weeks now. Thank you for any guidnace!

    • The Visa Geeza

      4 Jan 2021 am31 10:55am

      Sure – every week we’re getting numerous approvals.

    • lalalove

      4 Jan 2021 pm31 1:53pm

      Hi Billy,

      How do you find out what “stage” your visa application is in and how do you know its with a senior officer?

      The immigration department sent my employer a letter dated December 7, 2020 acknowledging receipt of the visa application and the status online remains “in progress”. Other than that there has been no further information provided. How can I get a more accurate update?


      • The Visa Geeza

        11 Jan 2021 pm31 2:37pm

        It’s not unusual for this timing. ImmD are operating only a reduced service capacity. If you have the officer’s number (on the letter they wrote to you previously) you can try to call and speak to the officer.

  • lalalove

    9 Dec 2020 am31 3:24am

    Hi Stephen,

    I’m located in Canada and got a job offer from the largest bank in Hong Kong in late November 2020. They confirmed they submitted all the required documents for my visa application (inclusive of my paper work as well) on December 1, 2020; one day prior to another service disruption to the Immigration Department and WFH orders.

    My question: is the Immigration Department still processing work visa applications during this time they’re required to WFH?

    By the looks of rising covid cases, and also being that its year end/holidays this WFH mandate will likely go beyond the 2 weeks that was initially planned…

    • The Visa Geeza

      9 Dec 2020 pm31 3:29pm

      Yes they are. Delays are inevitable however.

  • AT

    2 Dec 2020 pm31 10:42pm

    Dear Visa Geeza,

    My work visa application (GEP) was submitted at ImmD in the end of October. It is almost 6 weeks now but the status is still in progress. How long does it take to get a work visa (GEP) nowadays?
    Also, does this ImmD disruption mean that all visa processes which are under “in progress” status now will be stoped/delayed until Dec 15?

    • The Visa Geeza

      9 Dec 2020 pm31 3:35pm

      With COVID all normal time frames are out of the window. ImmD appear to be slogging their way through applications with significant demands on their resources and the WFH arrangements are slowing things down all over again (4th time in 7 months). Nothing is being ‘stopped’ as such but if the officer working on your file is WFH then you can expect more delays.

      • AT

        11 Dec 2020 am31 4:51am

        Thank you for your reply.
        But what to do with the start date written in the contract and in the form ID990 (proposed date of entry) if the delay is too long? Will ImmD be pay the attention if the contract should start but they are still processing the application because of WFH? Should I ask in this case my employer to re-sign the contract with me and re-submit it to the ImmD?

        • The Visa Geeza

          22 Dec 2020 pm31 12:18pm

          Include a contract clause saying the start date is subject to the permission of the HK Director of Immigration

  • Russell

    16 Sep 2020 pm30 10:39pm

    Hi Stephen,
    It’s been 5 weeks since I handed in my PR application. I have supplied the documents they requested but they have not sent any acknowledgments. I have checked the status online but it is still pending. Do you have any advice? Thanks

    • The Visa Geeza

      21 Sep 2020 am30 11:29am

      All you can do is wait. COVID has delayed most everything at ImmD at the moment.

  • John

    13 Sep 2020 pm30 11:19pm

    Hi Stephen

    I mailed my PR application to ID using SFexpress on Friday, it was signed by the reception on the 25th floor. Just wondering if you know whether they do process applications handed in by mail?

    Also when should I expect to receive the reference number?

    Thank you so much

    • The Visa Geeza

      14 Sep 2020 am30 10:03am

      Yes they do and you should get a receipt and a file reference number within a couple of weeks.

  • Keiron

    8 Sep 2020 pm30 9:19pm

    Hi Stephen,

    I applied for a working holiday visa over 3 weeks ago, I haven’t received any notification of receipt or anything to tell me my status. Are they accepting applicants for this scheme still? What are my chances of being accepted if I only have college education and not university?

    Do you know how long it takes to process during this time?

    • The Visa Geeza

      14 Sep 2020 am30 10:06am

      ImmD have only recently gotten back to something akin to a normal service so there have been delays. if you qualify for the visa and there is quota available you will get the visa. The level of your education has no bearing on eligibility for the working holiday visa.

  • VA

    8 Sep 2020 pm30 3:02pm

    Hello Stephen,

    I have applied for my PR on the 28 of July 2020 (Reached my 7-year mark at the 27th 2020). I assume due to the Covid-19 the processing time would be longer (additional documents are submitted half August), but no reply regarding a finalized visa so far. Also, all communication is through the mail, which is not the fastest way these days to communicate as well. As my current dependant visa will expire on the 29th of September, I decided to play it save and applied for an extension/change of visa on the 8th of September. However, they told me this will take at least 4 weeks to process which will take me beyond my expiry date (so-called limbo situation). Another difficulty is that I couldn’t apply for a more straightforward extension of my dependant visa as I got divorced last year. Therefore a change of my sponsorship was necessary. Am I still allowed to work after my visa will expire If I won’t get approval before the expiry date?

    I have been working in Hong Kong for 7 years, and more than 3 years for my current (sponsoring) employer.

    Thank you very much for your reply, and all the useful material you have been putting out online. This has been very helpful in this whole process so far.



    • The Visa Geeza

      14 Sep 2020 am30 10:13am

      1 – good idea to apply for the extension of stay and change of visa category.

      2 – technically you will not be eligible for work privileges under a dependent visa that has expired if you are incapable of extending it (usually ImmD allow your immigration status quo to be maintained whilst you undergo the extension process but you will fall between dependent visa and employment visa – not yet approved). Consequently I would call/visit the immigration officer tasked with your file and ask if they have any objection to you carrying on your work whilst you remain ‘in limbo’ with your various applications.

      3 – I suspect ImmD will likely finalise your PR application before the 29th of September so all of this may very well be moot.

  • AJ

    31 Aug 2020 am31 10:09am

    My IANG expired on 24th Aug, and my employer for idiotic reasons submitted my application on 18th August, hence my visa is still under processing.

    I completed my 7 yrs in HK on 18th Aug.

    Just wondering if this would affect my Permanent residence application (which I will do soon) since it puts me in the “twilight” zone?

    • The Visa Geeza

      31 Aug 2020 am31 10:22am

      No it’s fine. Apply for your PR now.

      • AJ

        31 Aug 2020 am31 11:37am

        Thank you Stephen

        Amazes me the amount and qualify of info you put out.

        I imagine I cannot apply for my PR since I need a full copy of my passport (i.e the entire passport?), which I do not have since my passport has been with HR and now ID for a month now. I’ll get to it as soon as I have my passport back.

        Also, my 4 years were as a student, and I’ve been working (in reputable, international firms) for the last 3 years. IRD has not issued a salaries tax return to me during this duration. Can this (not submitting copies of tax return) potentially be a problem?

        Thank you!

        • The Visa Geeza

          7 Sep 2020 am30 9:45am

          Just apply with whatever documents you have and then let ImmD come back and ask for any missing information. If you have been working for the last 3 years you will no doubt have a tax position you need to regularise prior to PR approval so I would make a strong effort to get to the bottom as to whay you’ve not had any tax filings to make in that time.

  • James

    26 Aug 2020 am31 2:18am

    Dear Stephen

    I started the work visa process in early July, two weeks ago ImmD has requested further information and documents were provided the following day. I’ve read many of your articles, it is been very helpful to me during this process.

    How long do you think it would take for ImmD to process my visa? I understand now the service has slow down due to the pandemic situation. But I’d like to have some idea about the time, maybe you know from any other visa petition.
    Does the 6-8 timeframe start all over again since further info was requested?

    Thank you very much for your assistance! I truly appreciate it.

    • The Visa Geeza

      31 Aug 2020 am31 9:12am

      4 weeks from the date of the last submission is the normal operating time frame (assuming ImmD are working normally).

      • James

        2 Sep 2020 am30 8:27am

        Thank you very much!

  • RA

    21 Aug 2020 pm31 8:53pm

    Hi there ,

    I’m just asking about my visa,,I’m waiting too long more than 7weeks, i though it takes time to wait in just 4 weeks ,, thank you

    • The Visa Geeza

      24 Aug 2020 am31 9:26am

      ImmD operating significantly reduced service schedule and have been doing for many weeks.

  • James

    21 Aug 2020 pm31 4:23pm

    My visa extension will be granted two days later than my current limit of stay due to the reduced services at the immigration department. My employers say I have to take that time off unpaid or they will have legal trouble – are they right?

    • The Visa Geeza

      24 Aug 2020 am31 9:27am

      No. As long as you’re presently approved to work for that employer and you submitted your application BEFORE your current limit of stay expires your immigration status quo anti will be preserved and you remain lawfully employable.

  • Zach

    20 Aug 2020 pm31 12:48pm

    Are sideline employment applications being accepted or processed now? How does one submit a sideline employment application?

    • The Visa Geeza

      24 Aug 2020 am31 9:29am

      Drop in box at ImmD. They are not being processed presently under the limited service arrangements at ImmD.

  • Mike S

    20 Aug 2020 am31 9:52am

    Hi there, changing employer (resignation in and last working day in end of August) and new employer is Sept 1st, Due to IMD’s emergency only policy (visa doesn’t expire til Feb) had to drop in paperwork on 15th August only with no reference etc

    Can I still work until I hear back?

    • The Visa Geeza

      24 Aug 2020 am31 9:30am

      You can work only for your current employer until your last day. Then no more work until ImmD approve you.

  • Siva

    11 Aug 2020 pm31 12:45pm

    Completed seven years and submitted an application (28 days before 7 year anniversary) for Right of Abode. recived acknowledgement.

    Awaiting feedback.

    Limited working hours will impact this right?

    • The Visa Geeza

      17 Aug 2020 am31 9:51am


    • James

      28 Aug 2020 am31 5:44am

      You’re supposed to apply when you have 7 years. Not before. I went to ask them about this and they were quite adamant about this.

      • The Visa Geeza

        31 Aug 2020 am31 9:11am

        ImmD accept our applications for PR maximum 28 days prior to 7 years

        • The Visa Geeza

          4 Sep 2020 am30 3:05am

          Although this is not guaranteed. Good luck

  • G

    5 Aug 2020 pm31 5:26pm

    My officer advised that my visa is being processed but due to government policies there might be a delay in the printing of the visa label. Unsure what this means any idea how long this part of the process takes?

    • The Visa Geeza

      10 Aug 2020 am31 9:57am

      When ImmD fully re-open for business then the section that prints visa labels after approval will also re-open.

  • Steph

    3 Aug 2020 pm31 7:12pm

    Are they processing student visas?
    Also any chance of getting a visitor visa extension a 3rd time if there are extenuating circumstances?

    • The Visa Geeza

      10 Aug 2020 am31 10:09am

      Yes and yes but student visas will take longer.

  • Vic

    2 Aug 2020 am31 2:24am

    I have been granted a working holiday visa already and I am now in possession of it. Am I able to take my flight to Hong Kong on the basis that this is an exception to the no entry to foreigners? Just concerned because it is a working holiday visa not ‘working’.(Obviously I understand the quarantine rules will apply.) Many thanks!

    • The Visa Geeza

      3 Aug 2020 am31 10:55am

      Yes its an entry visa so you can travel to HK under it.

    • Lee

      8 Sep 2020 pm30 3:45pm

      Hi Vic, did you have any issues when traveling to Hong Kong now under the exceptions? I am in the same boat with having a working holiday visa and not sure if I fall within the exceptions.

      • The Visa Geeza

        14 Sep 2020 am30 10:06am

        Yes you do.

  • Matt

    29 Jul 2020 am31 11:59am

    Hi there,

    Any visibility on whether or not the Immigration Department is still processing employment visas during this “work from home” period? I’m waiting on my visa so I can relocate from Australia to Hong Kong for work.


    • The Visa Geeza

      3 Aug 2020 am31 10:57am

      Yes they are but only at a glacial pace, nowhere near normal service levels. This will remain the same until the WFH arrangements are once again lifted.

  • Travis

    23 Jul 2020 pm31 8:15pm


    My visa was (according to the case worker) a couple of days from approval when they shut down. I don’t suppose there’s any way to apply for an exception to get this issued?
    Otherwise, what would be your best guess as to how they they will be shut down for, assuming Hong Kong hit the covid peak today – would 6 weeks be a reasonable guess?


    • The Visa Geeza

      27 Jul 2020 am31 11:01am

      No chance for any exception. You just have to wait I’m afraid. Your crystal ball is otherwise as good as mine in terms of timing sorry to say.

    • Matt

      29 Jul 2020 pm31 12:03pm

      @Travis, did you have any luck with your visa yet?

  • John

    4 Jul 2020 pm31 9:16pm

    Hi Stephen,

    So does it mean that it’s possible for someone living abroad to get a work visa and cross the border to start working in HK? Or do work visas not qualify people as HK residents and thus don’t permit them to move in?

    • The Visa Geeza

      6 Jul 2020 pm31 1:26pm

      Newly issued employment visas are treated as residence visas and so are eligible to enter HK subject to quarantine arrangements in the force at the time of approval to commence residency here under that visa.


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