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Why Would You Choose Unconditional Stay After 7 Years Residence in Hong Kong When the Right of Abode is Available Instead?

November 16th, 2012

Posted by / in 60 Second Snapshot, Long Stay & PR, Special Programmes / 9 responses



Unconditional stay and the right of abode are 2 very different immigration statuses but they both have one thing in common.

Namely, you need to have been continuously and ordinarily resident in the HKSAR for at least 7 years in or to qualify for either of these immigration consents.

But, whilst the right of abode is the Rolls Royce immigration status representing defacto Hong Kong citizenship (albeit without a passport if you’re not a Chinese national), unconditional stay is merely an administrative convenience afforded to you by the Director of Immigration.

If you have the right of abode in Hong Kong you get:

• to land
• to be free from any condition of stay (including a limit of stay)
• not to be deported; and
• not to be removed.

Moreover, so long as you make one entry into Hong Kong in any 3 year given period, you will not lose your right of abode. If you fail to meet this condition, however, you are simply downgraded to the right to land.

If you only go for unconditional stay, though, you are allowed to remain here unconditionally, meaning no sponsor or further permission of the Immigration Department are needed to live out your time in the HKSAR, but you will lose this status if you are absent from Hong Kong for more than 365 continuous days in a row.

So, most people who qualify for upgraded immigration status after living continuously in Hong Kong for 7 years go on to secure the right of abode bypassing unconditional stay completely.

However, for those long stay residents who have not taken Hong Kong as their only place of permanent residence or for Capital Investment Entrant Scheme visa holders who have not lived full time in Hong Kong during the 7 years of holding that status, Unconditional Stay is an obvious choice to go for.

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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.

  • Question!

    16 Feb 2015 pm28 8:39pm


    my daughter and i landed in Dec 2008. We would like to apply for ROA when the time comes in Dec 2015. The problem is my daughter will be going overseas for tertiary education in September 2015. Can she still qualify to apply for ROA and permanent Hong Kong ID ?

    Thank you for your help.

    • The Visa Geeza

      17 Feb 2015 am28 8:59am

      Yes, just so long as you maintain her dependant visa at all times prior to securing the right of abode. Time spent away form the family home in pursuit of education overseas does not normally break continuty of ordinary residence.


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