By Nick Au
As Hong Kong has long been considered an attractive destination for professionals to develop their careers, it is understandable that so many individuals would apply for employment visas under Hong Kong’s General Employment Policy scheme (“GEP”).
Foreigners should not feel intimidated, as the Hong Kong employment visa process is well documented, transparent, and simple to complete. In this article, we will provide tips on how one can maximize their chances of obtaining a Hong Kong employment visa.
Gather the Necessary Supporting Documentation
This tip may sound simple, but it is often overlooked. The most prevalent reason for why employment visas are rejected is when the application lacks sufficient documentation to support the applicant.
For example, many applicants assume that a document evidencing a job offer is enough. However, assessors will often refer to an applicant’s education background, reference letter, and relevant work experiences to determine whether the individual has sufficient qualifications to fulfill their role.
In the event that the Hong Kong Immigration Department requests for additional information, which is very common, applicants will typically be given 2-3 weeks to provide the outstanding information. In the event that the applicant fails to meet this deadline, the Immigration Department will close the case and the applicant will have to file a new application – definitely not a preferable path when hoping to start a new job in Hong Kong.
You Need a Qualified Hong Kong Company to Sponsor Your Employment Visa
An employment visa application can only be approved if the sponsoring employer is a recognized Hong Kong company. In other words, the company must have been incorporated in Hong Kong.
Even if a company has operations in Hong Kong, applicants must ensure that their employer has a Hong Kong business registration license and is able to demonstrate a good reason why a local candidate cannot fill the job opening. Some examples of documents that could support this are job advertisements, CVs of unsuccessful candidates ,and interview records. In addition, the sponsoring company should maintain a good ratio between local and foreign hires.
Consider Professional Help
In the event that a work visa application is rejected, submission of subsequent work visa applications will be increasingly difficult. As such, the best chance of obtaining a work visa is on the first attempt.
To avoid any situation where a resubmission is required, applicants can consider engaging a professional firm to assist in the process. Most professional firms are experienced at handling Hong Kong visa application procedures, and can advise as to how assessors will interpret each application. They can generally also help to submit the application on the applicant’s behalf.
Understand What Individual Qualities Can Improve the Chances of Getting Accepted
The Hong Kong government will assess each work visa application on a case-by-case basis to determine the merit of each applicant. Specifically, assessors will examine each applicant’s professional qualities to see:
- If the applicant possesses a good educational background, or has documentary evidence of their technical qualifications, relevant professional abilities, achievements, and experience;
- That the applicant’s remuneration package is in line with the prevailing market standards in Hong Kong;
- There is a high likelihood that the applicant can provide a positive contribution to Hong Kong’s economy and society.
Plan Your Employment Visa Application Ahead of Time
The Hong Kong Immigration Department will typically require at least four to six weeks to process an employment visa application. However, this process can only begin once they have obtained all requested documentation. Of course, if assessors have questions regarding the application, the timeline could be extended further.
Because of the length of time involved, it is advisable to have the application form and all possible supporting documents ready at hand when applying.
Bonus: With an Employment Visa, Your Spouse Can Also Obtain a Hong Kong Visa
Applicants who have successfully obtained an employment visa may also apply to bring their partners to Hong Kong through a dependent visa. Dependent visas are designed for the immediate family members of foreign nationals who hold a Hong Kong employment visa. In other words, these visas are essentially for relocating families.
Eligibility for this scheme is determined by an applicant’s ability to demonstrate that there is a genuine relationship between the holder of the Hong Kong employment visa, and the applicant for the dependent visa. Dependent visa applications must also be able to demonstrate that the holder of the Hong Kong employment visa is able to support their dependent’s life in Hong Kong.
In general, the dependent’s visa and their length of stay will normally be linked to their sponsor, in this case, the original applicant.
Hong Kong remains an attractive destination for business. The city’s relationship with China and its close proximity to ASEAN economies brings about a multitude of opportunities for businesses. Individuals who are seeking employment in Hong Kong should feel comfortable knowing that the application process is simple and transparent, but still remain aware of the documentation and time involved.
About the Author
Nick works in the Business Development team at the FastLane Group, a Hong Kong-based accounting and advisory firm which has a special focus on helping SMEs. Nick graduated from Syracuse University in the United States with honors and received his Bachelor’s degree in International Relations. Nick joined the FastLane Group in 2019 having previously worked at KPMG as an Assistant Manager in their Mergers and Acquisitions and Deal Advisory team.
Header image courtesy of Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash.