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Your Questions Answered

So, Just What is the Deal With the Right to Land in Hong Kong Anyway?

November 17th, 2020

Posted by / in Long Stay & PR, Your Question Answered / 37 responses


The right to land in Hong Kong impacts quite a number of people here but does not figure much in the general immigration scheme as it is not a status that you can apply for per se, nor is it an immigration status that you can acquire by descent.


The right to land in Hong Kong is available in certain situations which I discuss in the context of this question which popped into my Inbox first thing this morning (and I have assumed the questioner’s parents are Chinese citizens for the purpose of this question).


“Hi, I was born in Netherlands in 1974, but my parents are from Hong Kong. Will I still be able to apply for the right to land? “

More Stuff You May Find Useful or Interesting

Will you qualify for the Right of Abode in Hong Kong if it is not your intention to live here permanently?

The right of abode for foreign nationals in Hong Kong – when does the clock start ticking?

10 must have resources for a successful permanent residency application in Hong Kong

Will any time you spend in Hong Kong as a visitor count towards the magic 7 years for a right of abode application?

DISCUSSED IN THE PODCAST ANSWER – I am an overseas Chinese and my mother holds a Permanent ID Card and a HKSAR passport so do I have the right of abode in Hong Kong?




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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.

  • Will

    6 Jan 2024 pm31 6:51pm

    I have right to land but not been back to HK since pre-covid. So over 3 years. Will I lose this status?

    • The Visa Geeza

      9 Jan 2024 am31 9:10am


  • William

    15 Aug 2023 am31 12:58am

    If your dad has right to land do you get right to land by descent? (if they are not a chinese national, but their grandpa is)

    • The Visa Geeza

      15 Aug 2023 am31 1:32am


  • AM

    2 Jan 2023 pm31 5:44pm

    I was born in Hong Kong in 1995 and one of my parent was PR holder. But when I was young I left Hong Kong with my one parent and now I return after 25 years in Hong Kong as a visitor. if I apply for right to abode will I be eligible for right to land?

    • The Visa Geeza

      6 Jan 2023 am31 10:45am

      Unless you regularised your status in Hong Kong within 12 months of the Handover you lost all your eligibility.

      • AM

        18 May 2023 pm31 2:10pm

        I applied ROP 145 and got RTL

    • Katie

      25 Aug 2023 pm31 8:27pm

      If you were born in HK, you are a Chinese national. Thus you have the right of abode in HK from birth. Your right of abode does not go away because you left HK for a long period of time. Only non-Chinese nationals’ right of abode will be downgraded to right to land if they left HK for over 36 months.

  • Philip

    19 Nov 2022 am30 10:43am

    I had PR before 1997 when our family left in 1989. When I worked in Hong Kong a few years ago for a short time my employer applied for a work visa. So my new ID card,as I had no longer got the old one, was not RTL. Can I apply for a RTL ID card when I am next there?

    • The Visa Geeza

      23 Nov 2022 pm30 2:47pm

      Doesn’t appear so from how you describe your most recent status.

      • Philip

        24 Nov 2022 pm30 5:28pm

        Thanks for your reply – I am wondering how I would have lost the right. I was unaware of RTL when I applied for the job and so the employer arranged the visa and I applied for a Permanent ID but was denied it but was not aware of any other process to apply for a RTL on it. My ROA was via a UK passport prior to 1997 and more than 7 years residency.

        • Helen

          19 Jun 2023 am30 2:13am

          Philip you lost the ROA because you departed HK in 1989 and didn’t return until now.
          If you was not born in Hong Kong and therefore, probably not regarded as a Chinese National and did not return within 36 months then you lose your Right of Abode (ROA).
          This became the rule after the handover and is continuously becoming complicated ever since – even for Immigration themselves.
          RTL is automatic downgrade when you lose your ROA and PR so you don’t need to apply for it.

  • CJ

    18 Jul 2022 pm31 2:33pm

    G’day Visa Geeza!

    Can’t find a concrete answer anywhere on the HK gov website – but is it your understanding that you cannot loose your RTL ID? Ie the 3 year rule doesn’t apply to the RTL does it? Been hard to get back to hk with all the covid restrictions.

    • The Visa Geeza

      29 Jul 2022 am31 8:45am

      Correct. You cannot lose the Right to Land under any circumstances.

    • Helen

      19 Jun 2023 am30 2:15am

      The 36 month rule only applies to those who has PR but is of foreign nationality such as myself.

  • Lara

    31 Mar 2022 am31 4:56am

    Good day,

    I will also miss my 36 months window due to covid. This means that I will not be in a hurry to go back, and it could be a couple of years before I will do so. Can I postpone applying for a new ID card with the right to land this long, or should I apply from overseas (is that even an option, or do I have to be in the country?)?

    I am still a bit at a loss regarding the difference between “right of abode” (ROA) and “right to land” (RTL). Is the only difference that with the ROA you cannot be deported?

    Like so many others, my main concern is being allowed to live and work in HK without requiring a visa. Thus, if that is all that is really important to me, whether I have the ROA or the RTL does not seem to make a difference at all. Do I see that correctly?

    Thanks so much in advance, really appreciate you running this super helpful site!

    • The Visa Geeza

      8 Apr 2022 am30 9:07am

      When you next retunr to HK after missing the 36 month window you simply apply to have your ID card chnaged to denote Right to Land (apply for ROP145 and then ImmD will refuse it and this avails the RTL ID card therefater). You must be in country.


      RTL is functional PR, one rung below RoA. You can’t lose it and you never need to apply for any kind of visa for HK ever again.

      • Lara

        16 May 2022 pm31 7:55pm

        Many thanks for your response, really appreciate it! Just to reconfirm, with the Right to Land I can still work in Hong Kong without restrictions and without applying for any other visa?
        Thanks a lot!

        • The Visa Geeza

          1 Jun 2022 pm30 2:26pm


  • Chas

    8 Mar 2022 pm31 12:54pm

    I have a Right to Land HKID card, would that also mean my wife also qualifies to stay visa free in HK ?
    Also would she qualify for a right to land HKID ?

    • The Visa Geeza

      13 Mar 2022 am31 11:09am

      It depends what you mean by ‘visa free’? She can qualify for a Dependant Visa sponsored by you if you’re planning to live here. Your right to land status is not transferrable to your spouse.

  • IB

    23 Feb 2021 am28 1:43am

    Hi there – thanks for this helpful podcast!

    First question: I am a foreign national who acquired permanent residency from growing up in HK. I left for college a few years ago but am not able to return to HK as planned this year due to covid. As a result, i will have missed my 36 month window to return. Do I get automatically downgraded to right to land and can continue to use my ID card to enter HK or do i have to re-apply for right to land?

    Second question: does right to land give me the right to work and live for an unrestricted period of time in HK (without needing an additional visa, and conditional to not being arrested etc.)?

    Thank you!

    • The Visa Geeza

      26 Feb 2021 pm28 12:17pm

      First question: YES and YES. Next back to HK though you must apply to change your ID card

      Second question: YES RTL is still PR even if not the right of abode.

    • Luca

      4 Dec 2023 pm31 8:47pm

      Hi! I know it’s been a long time since this comment thread was posted, but I’m in much the same situation myself and am being downgraded to RTL. The exception for me is that I still hold a Juvenile ID card, due to the state of Covid around my 18th birthday as well as my departure to university. I was wondering if you know (theoretically or anecdotally) whether I could enter HK with my Juvenile ID card, or if I would have to use my passport and enter as a foreign national? Many thanks for your time!

      • The Visa Geeza

        8 Dec 2023 pm31 12:16pm

        Your juvenille ID card should work but you’ll likely be flagged by an Officer and told to chnage your ID card.

        • LT

          8 Dec 2023 pm31 9:23pm

          Thank you so much for your response!

          Another quick question—I originally had ROA through my parent who was a permanent resident, but have since turned 21. When filling in my ROP 145, do you know if I can still claim to apply for eligibility as the Under 21 child of someone with permanent residence?

          Sorry this is getting so technical, and thanks again for your help!

  • Damo

    12 Mar 2020 am31 10:55am

    is the application process for permanent residency the same if you already have Right to land?

    • The Visa Geeza

      13 Mar 2020 pm31 2:05pm

      Yes – need to demonstrate continuous ordinary residence in HK for at least 7 years to upgrade from RTL to ROA.

  • Pauline Lo

    2 Jun 2019 pm30 10:39pm

    If I have the Right to Land in Hong Kong, would my son who was born overseas, has the same Right to Land too?

    • The Visa Geeza

      4 Jun 2019 pm30 12:55pm

      No. he must qualify in his own right.

  • David

    26 Nov 2012 am30 4:08am

    If both parents were born in Hong Kong, the questioner almost certainly has the right to land. This is because, prior to 1 July 1997, the questioner was a Hong Kong permanent resident (British Dependent Territories Citizen by descent).


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