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Is It Actually Becoming Harder to Get Your Hong Kong Employment or Investment Visa Approved?

November 13th, 2012

Posted by / in 60 Second Snapshot, Employment Visas, Investment Visas / 10 responses


One refrain about the Hong Kong visa process that I have heard constantly down the years is that ‘it’s getting tougher’.

In fact, it always seems to be ‘getting tougher’.

I heard this prior to 1997 when all the British nationals needed to bring their immigration status into line with the arrangements for UK citizens in light of the Handback to China.

I also heard it during the time of the Asian economic crisis, 9/11, the Iraq War, SARS and during the GFC.

In my experience, however, it never really gets tougher, per se.

What tends to happen is that, in times of economic doldrums, the Hong Kong ID will scrutinize marginal employment visa applications more closely, to ensure that, properly stated, job offers extended to foreign national applicants are in fact not best taken up by others from within the local workforce.

It’s worth restating, that this tends to happen only at the very lower end of the employment spectrum, where the compensation on offer is just at or barely above the bare minimum required for approval.

Most other employment visa applicants just have a normal time of it.

Conversely, when the economy is bad is tends to be easier to get investment visas approved.

This is due to the fact that any foreign national who is committing capital to our economy and is manifestly capable of creating a local employment position or 2 through the implementation of a business plan, is mostly warmly welcomed when the economy is not performing especially well.

In so far as the process goes, the Hong Kong Immigration Department tend not to be overly bureaucratic and focus on getting the job done with a bare minimum of fuss.

This means that, unlike so many other jurisdictions, they are usually happy to work with mere copy documents, often those supplied just by fax, in an effort to bring efficiency to the Hong Kong immigration application process.

So no, it’s not getting tougher, it’s always pretty much the same – and has been like this for 20 years at least.

More Stuff to Help You Along

10 must have resources for any Hong Kong investment visa application

10 must have resources for a successful Hong Kong working visa application

How and why Hong Kong attracts foreign national talent

Sometimes even large employers experience Hong Kong employment visa refusals – why might this be so?

How to gee up a Hong Kong working visa application that is taking too long to finalise



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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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